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    Shows how much US's sanctions really worth. Unless of course Bulgarian authorities change their minds.

    Russian Stroytransgaz consortium will build the Bulgarian stretch of the South Stream gas pipeline, it was revealed.

    A major shareholder (63%) in Stroytransgaz is Volga Group, owned by Gennady Timchenko, who was placed on the US's sanctions list against Russia in mid-March. He is believed to be the 6th richest man in Russia, according to Forbes, and with close ties to President Vladimir Putin.

    Bulgaria's Capital daily reported earlier this year that Stroytransgaz has expressed interest in building the pipeline, but official confirmation came on Tuesday by Vladimir Inkov, executive director of South Stream Bulgaria.

    Stroytransgaz's main Bulgarian partner in the project will be Gazproekt Yug (South), which includes several major construction companies.

    The tender for South Stream's construction in Bulgaria opened in December 2013. A total of 11 companies from Austria, Japan, Belgium, Germany, Italy, India, Russia, Switzerland, and Bulgaria took part.

    Despite the European Commission's recommendations for renegotiation of the South Stream project, Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller confirmed last month that the building of the pipeline's ground stretch in Bulgaria and Serbia will begin in July.

    Bulgaria also faces pilot procedures in the European Commission over controversial amendments to the status of South Stream, which are allegedly not in line with EU law.

    – See more at: http://www.novinite.com/articles/160891/Sanctioned+Russian+Tycoon++Wins+Bulgaria's+South+Stream+Bid#sthash.z3jfLijt.dpuf

    * Sanctions-hit Timchenko controls firm through Volga Group

    * Bulgaria sees South Stream safeguarding its energy imports (Adds details, background)

    SOFIA May 27 (Reuters) – Russian natural gas exporter Gazprom said on Tuesday it had selected a consortium led by Russia's Stroitransgaz to build a stretch of the South Stream pipeline across Bulgaria estimated to be worth more than 3 billion euros ($4.10 billion).

    The 2,400-km (1,500-mile) pipeline will bypass Ukraine where Gazprom is locked in its third pricing dispute in a decade and faces opposition from European officials who want to lower Europe's reliance on Russian energy.

    It is expected to be fully operational by 2018 at an estimated cost of around 17 billion euros.

    Leonid Chugunov, head of Gazprom's project management department, told a news conference that Stroitransgaz and several Bulgarian firms had been selected from 11 bidders.

    Industry sources told Reuters in March that Stroitransgaz was likely to win the tender.

    Businessman Gennady Timchenko owns 63 percent in Stroitransgaz Group via his Volga Group. He was included in a list of Russian officials and businessmen targeted by U.S. sanctions over Ukraine in March.

    On Tuesday, officials from Gazprom and Bulgarian state energy holding company BEH which will jointly the stretch of pipeline, declined to comment on how Timchenko being on the sanctions list might affect the companies or the deal.

    Bulgaria, which is almost fully reliant on Russian gas, has been a staunch supporter of the pipeline, which is aimed at transporting up to 63 billion cubic metres of gas per year across the Black Sea to central Europe.

    Stroitransgaz, which works closely with Gazprom, was also involved in construction of East Siberia-Pacific Ocean oil pipeline built to increase Russia's oil exports to Asia.

    ($1 = 0.7325 Euros) (Reporting By Tsvetelia Tsolova and Angel Krasimirov, editing by David Evans and Jason Neely)


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