Sofia views Nabucco as a 'priority'

SOFIA, Bulgaria, June 25 (UPI) -- Though Bulgaria still backs the South Stream natural gas pipeline, the rival Nabucco option is a priority, the Bulgarian foreign minister said Friday.

Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov said there was a strong need to diversify the European energy sector in light of the 2009 decision by Russian energy company Gazprom to briefly cut gas supplies to Ukraine.


The Ukrainian gas transit system carries 80 percent of all Russian gas bound for Europe. A gas row prompted Gazprom to cut gas supplies in January 2009.

Russia and Europe are examining several options meant to diversify the regional transit network. Mladenov told lawmakers Friday that while Russia's South Stream project was "very important," the Nabucco pipeline was a "priority" for Bulgaria, the Sofia News Agency reports.

The path for Nabucco includes a 256-mile leg through Bulgaria while South Stream would divide into two pipelines -- one to Greece and the other through the Balkans -- once it reaches the Bulgarian coast.

Energy analysts predict that Europe could face natural gas shortages as early as 2015. Nabucco is expected to start gas deliveries in 2014. South Stream would follow in 2015.


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