Gazprom has expressed disappointment at the recommendation of the European Commission (EC) for the revision of bilateral agreements on the South Stream gas pipeline project. “It is customary for trans-border investment projects to be supported by intergovernmental agreements in order to achieve security and stability for investors,” according to a statement of Gazprom’s press office, as cited by the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency (BTA), novinite.com reports. According to the media statement, Gazprom is not a party to these agreements, whose texts have been accessible for years. “This is an inappropriate moment, taking into account that, several countries have declared the South Stream gas pipeline project a national priority,” Gazprom points out. “It is standard practice to underpin large cross-border investments by intergovernmental agreements in order to provide legal certainty and stability for investors. We are not a signatory to these agreements, but their contents have been public for years. This is why we are surprised and disappointed that the Commission voices its concerns only now, after construction works have begun. This unfortunate timing is even less comprehensible given that South Stream has been granted national priority status in several EU member states,” the press release notes Gazprom has now reached an agreement with EU regulators on OPAL, the onshore leg of Nord Stream. “We believe it is possible to leverage the experiences gathered in this drawn-out process in order to swiftly establish a workable regulatory framework for the onshore segments of South Stream.”The press release was issued in response to a recent recommendation of the EC that the intergovernmental agreements between Russia and EU Member States on the project be renegotiated in order to make them compliant with EU law.
The EC threatened infringement proceedings against EU countries on the route of the pipe unless they took steps to make the agreements legally compliant. The Russian energy giant noted that it had reached agreement on the exemption from the EU’s Third Energy Package legislation for the Nord Stream project and South Stream could also be granted an exemption.