Skip to Content

Gas pipeline infrastructure. Photo supplied

Europe’s energy under threat

An ongoing Bulgarian legal circus is threatening Europe’s energy diversity.

Published: August 14, 2019, 8:01 am

    Read more

    In times of global challenges in many respects – from climate change to economic and political uncertainty, Southern Europe is facing another serious threat. It is a threat to its energy security, which may lead to serious cross-national tensions and dramatic consequences for Europe.

    One of key contributors to this threat is the political and economic crisis in Ukraine. This country, riddled by endemic corruption, political division and a raging war in its rebellious region of Donbass, is in the process of forming a new government in the aftermath of parliamentary elections held in mid-July.

    Ukraine is of crucial importance as an energy corridor for Europe. Its inability to deal with domestic problems and guarantee its role as reliable transit hub, together with an uncertain future facing its contractual obligations with Russian supplier Gazprom, present a real threat for the coming winter months.

    The scourge of Ukrainian corruption and private interests of oligarchs that have taken precedence over public interests seem to be spreading to other countries of Europe. Bulgaria is yet another fresh victim of such corruption.

    The reason why these irregular activities have taken root, is because the Bulgarian leg of the Turkish Stream natural gas pipeline extension was supposed to become one of the main routes for gas supply to Southern Europe, contributing to the diversity of gas supplies to Serbia, Hungary, Croatia and other countries of the region.

    The 480km pipeline will run between Turkey and Serbia across Bulgaria, offering an efficient route for gas transit and reducing the dependence of the region on transit of gas from Ukraine.

    However, its quite possible that this particular pipeline will not see completion until 2021-2022. The reason for the delay is continued and bitter legal disputes between Bulgartransgaz and the ARKAD consortium, led by Arkad Engineering from Saudi Arabia.

    The story behind this lawsuit is quite a peculiar one. ARKAD won the tender for construction by offering the lowest price, which came as a surprise to ARKAD’s opponents from the Gas Development and Extension in Bulgaria (GDEB) consortium. ARKAD had offered to build the 474,7km expansion for 1,1 billion euro by the end of 2020, compared to 1,6 billion euro offered by its rival.

    The most likely reason for ARKAD’s victory was assistance from politically connected Bulgarian oligarchs. Despite the success of the tender, Bulgartransgaz and Arkad Engineering were unable to sign a contract because the Saudi firm did not provide all the paperwork required by law, despite several postponements granted by Bulgartransgaz.

    In the meantime GDEB told Bulgartransgaz that it was prepared to offer a 31,1 percent discount on the price it originally offered to match ARKAD’s price. Given those factors and the importance of the project, Bulgartransgaz said that it was amending its initial decision and awarded the construction contract to the Bonatti-Max Streicher consortium.

    ARKAD acted quickly and filed a complaint against Bulgartransgaz’s decision to disqualify it as winner to the Bulgarian competition authority.

    CPC, the anti-monopoly body tasked with ruling on public procurement disputes, said that Bulgartransgaz’s decision was unlawful because it did not meet the legal requirements necessary for the company to modify its tender award decision.

    In early July, the GDEB Consortium appealed the CPC’s decision before the Supreme Administrative Court, reopening the legal dispute. As result, the construction will be delayed. The delay on the Bulgarian section means Gazprom will only be able to use TurkStream to ship its gas to Bulgaria and from Bulgaria to Greece, Macedonia and Romania via the existing network.

    For the time being, Serbia, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia will therefore still remain entirely reliant on the Ukrainian route. Lack of transparency in the tender process have left many wondering what happened to a clear and transparent project that was supposed to deliver gas to their homes and keep them warm in winter.

    The bigger strategic issue is however whether the EU is indeed committed to diversifying its energy supply routes in order to reduce dependence on unreliable political factors. One would expect that the EU’s new leadership will take corruption in the energy sector very seriously and adopt a position of zero tolerance against insider shady deals, which negatively impact the lives millions of Europeans.

    Consider donating to support our work

    Help us to produce more articles like this. FreeWestMedia is depending on donations from our readers to keep going. With your help, we expose the mainstream fake news agenda.

    Keep ​your language polite​. Readers from many different countries visit and contribute to Free West Media and we must therefore obey the rules in​,​ for example​, ​Germany. Illegal content will be deleted.

    If you have been approved to post comments without preview from FWM, you are responsible for violation​s​ of​ any​ law. This means that FWM may be forced to cooperate with authorities in a possible crime investigation.

    If your comments are subject to preview ​by FWM, please be patient. We continually review comments but depending on the time of day it can take up to several hours before your comment is reviewed.

    We reserve the right to del​ete​ comments that are offensive, contain slander or foul language, or are irrelevant to the discussion.

    Europe

    The Bellingcat phenomenon: how to declare a war against free speech and be awarded for ‘advances in journalism’

    At the end of March an American journalist Brenna T. Smith published a controversial article which consisted of revealing the personal data of people who took part in the storming of the US Capitol on January 6.

    Race for the title of ‘global savior’ – US dials back its hegemony during the pandemic

    The actions of the White House to support its European allies during the pandemic raise questions both from political elites who are loyal to the United States and from those who represent anti-American positions.

    Asylum seekers in Denmark can be sent 700km away – to Rwanda

    CopenhagenPeople who immigrate to Denmark illegally and seek asylum will soon be transported 700 km away and placed in a Danish asylum centre in a Central African country.

    Oxford study finds correlation between blood clotting events and most current vaccines

    MoscowThe developers of Sputnik V, the Russian vaccine against Covid-19, have urged health regulators to look into a University of Oxford study on the correlation between the occurrence of rare blood clotting and vaccines currently injected on a mass scale globally.

    EU countries agree on a uniform vaccination passport

    BerlinAccording to media reports, the member states of the European Union have agreed on a uniform vaccination card for travel within the Union. The EU states are therefore defining their position on the so-called "Green Passport", which should be operational by the end of June.

    Japan as a model for zero immigration

    DresdenDr. Jan Moldenhauer is a member of the AfD state board in Saxony-Anhalt and district chairman of the AfD Magdeburg. In May 2018 he published a study entitled "Japan's policy of zero immigration - a role model for Germany?"

    Development aid funds rise to a record high

    ParisGlobal funds for development aid reached a new high in the past year. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) announced in Paris on Tuesday, that public funds from donor countries rose to more than 161 billion US dollars (around 136 billion euros).

    Vaccine-immune Corona variants conceivable say researchers

    GöttingenCorona variants, against which current vaccines are less effective or no longer effective at all, can also arise in Germany, according to researchers. This is particularly possible with the virus spreading in a third wave, according to Stefan Pöhlmann and Markus Hoffmann from the Leibniz Institute for Primate Research in Göttingen.

    Study: No black goalkeepers in German Bundesliga equals discrimination and ‘racial stacking’

    According to a study, the absence of dark-skinned goalkeepers in the Bundesliga is due to racial discrimination not talent. The reason why individual clubs do not employ black goalkeepers, could be a coincidence, explained integration researcher Tina Nobis from Humboldt University in Berlin. "That there isn't a single black goalkeeper in the Bundesliga, means it's not a coincidence."

    European Court of Human Rights gives the green light for compulsory vaccinations

    StrasbourgIt is the first time that the European Court of Human Rights has dealt with the issue of compulsory vaccination. According to the ECHR, the mandatory vaccinations are in the "best interests" of society. According to experts, the judgment could play a role in the enforcement of Covid vaccinations.

    Go to archive