revista presei pe energie 15 octombrie – part IV

2010/10/15

Novinite: Inter RAO to Acquire Enel’s Bulgaria Coal-Fired Plant – Report

Russia’s state power trader Inter RAO has been tipped as the most likely buyer of a majority stake in Bulgaria’s Maritsa East 3 coal-fired power plant, controlled by Italy’sEnel SpA, according to reports.

Inter RAO may be the leading candidate among five bidders interested in Maritza, Italian daily Il Messaggero reported, without citing sources.

According to the report Enel, advised by Deutsche Bank AG, aims to pocked EUR 600 M from the sale and talks are at advanced stage.

Fulvio Conti, CEO of Enel SpA, said at the beginning of September that the Italian company will sell its stake in Bulgaria’s Maritsa East 3 power plant in the fall of 2010.

Conti made it clear that Enel plans to sell gas distribution assets in Spain by September, and its Bulgarian coal-fired power plant shortly after that, but declined to give a value for the sales.

In late July, Austria’s utility EVN, which already owns EVN Bulgaria, an electricity distribution company in south and southeast Bulgaria, confirmed it is holding talks for the acquisition of a majority stake in the Maritsa East 3 coal-fired power plant.

British utility International Power, US power producer AES Corp. and CEZ AS are also said to have shown interest in acquiring Enel majority stake in Maritsa East 3.

A year ago Enel increased the capacity of Maritsa East Three plant to 908 megawatts, up from 840 MW, and also put new desulphurisation installations on the plant’s four units.

Experts comment that the potential buyer is probably eying a 100% stake in the plant, in which the state owns a 27% stake. The rumors were fanned by a statement of Energy and Economy Minister Traicho Traikov, who recently announced that the state can land EUR 200 M from the sale of its stake in the plant.

The plant is located in the Maritsa East lignite coal mining complex in southern Bulgaria.

Novinite: RWE: Nabucco Decision No Earlier than 2011

German utility RWE AG Friday said a decision on whether to invest in the European Union-backed Nabucco natural gas pipeline will be made only in 2011.

“In light of the still pending gas supply contracts the original schedule can’t be met” said an RWE spokesman, confirming a statement by Michael Ulbrich, an executive at OMV AG (OMV.VI) with responsibility for pipeline projects.

Ulbrich told Austrian newspaper Der Standard: “This year we certainly won’t make it, it will be in 2011.”

The shareholders in Nabucco, which is slated to carry Caspian region gas 3,000 kilometers to Western Europe, are Botas (Turkey), Bulgarian Energy Holding (Bulgaria), MOL (Hungary), OMV (Austria), RWE (Germany), Transgaz (Romania), each holding an equal share of 16.67%.

The European Union puts high hopes in Nabucco for effecting the much-vaunted European South Energy Corridor in a bid to ensure the security of gas deliveries to Europe and decrease dependence on Russia.

It is seen as a rival to the South Stream gas pipeline project sponsored by Russia, to which Bulgaria is a also a party.

Novinte: Mitschek: Nabucco to Get Enough Gas in 2015

The EU-sponsored gas transit pipeline Nabucco has achieved much progress so far, Reinhard Mitschek, Managing Director of the Vienna-based Nabucco GasPipeline International GmbH said for Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency).

Mitschek commented on the statement of a spokesman of German energy companyRWE, one of the shareholders at the Nabucco consortium, cited by the Austrian paper Der Standard, that RWE will decide only in 2011 if it will invest in Nabucco.

Nabucco‘s progress has been very positive so far. This year saw the start of the Environmental & Social Impact Assessment with the first round of public hearings taking place in Hungary and Turkey already, and we have almost finalised the prequalification process for suppliers of long lead items. The Open Season process will start towards the end of 2010,” Mitschek said.

“The Final Investment Decision will be taken in 2011 and we expect construction to start in 2012 and the first gas to flow in 2014/2015, depending on the availability of sources. The reason for this slight shift is that we have to align ourselves with the upstream infrastructure and the availability of gas supply. From the suppliers’ side sufficient gas flow can be expected from 2015,” explained the Managing Director of the Nabucco consortium.

The shareholders in Nabucco, which is slated to carry Caspian region gas 3,000 kilometers to Western Europe, are Botas (Turkey), Bulgarian Energy Holding (Bulgaria), MOL (Hungary), OMV (Austria), RWE (Germany), Transgaz (Romania), each holding an equal share of 16.67%.

The European Union puts high hopes in Nabucco for effecting the much-vaunted European South Energy Corridor in a bid to ensure the security of gas deliveries to Europe and decrease dependence on Russia.

It is seen as a rival to the South Stream gas pipeline project sponsored by Russia, to which Bulgaria is a also a party.

Novinite: Putin, Berlusconi Inspired by Prospects of Germany Joining South Stream

The Prime Ministers of Russia and Italy, Vladimir Putin and Silvio Berlusconi, have paved the way for German companies to join the South Stream gas transitpipeline.

Putin and Berlusconi met in St. Petersburg on Saturday, and the construction of theSouth Stream pipe was a major issue on their agenda.

Putin notified his Italian counterpart that German energy companies have expressed their desire to join South Stream as shareholders, and Berlusconi has received the news positively, RIA Novosti reported.

“As regards the participation of other parties, specifically a German company, I will be a very positive contribution. In this way, the interest of the European Union in the project will be strengthened,” Berlusconi said.

“Excellent,” Putin is quoted as replying to that.

“We will work on this project, he did not violate the plans of other companies implementing such projects in the region, other regions of the world, but this will certainly enhance energy opportunities and energy security in Europe”, said Putin.

Over the summer, German media reported that Gazprom has approached German energy company RWE, one of the six shareholders in the rivaling gas pipelineproject Nabucco, with an offer to join South Stream. However, these reports were quickly dismissed as being the result of a “misunderstanding.”

Berlusconi said that joint efforts failed to convince Turkey that it should allow the passage of the South Stream through its territorial waters.

“Right now, there remain some issues that relate to the passage of this project through one of the countries. I will probably work from a diplomatic point of view on one of the countries to convince it not not to put forward any difficulties on this project,” said Berlusconi without specifying which is the country in question.

The South Stream gas transit pipeline is supposed to be ready by 2015. Its construction is expected to cost between EUR 19 B and EUR 24 B. It will be transporting 63 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually, or 35% of Russia‘s total annual natural gas export to Europe.

The South Stream pipe will start near Novorosiysk on the Russian Black Sea coast, and will go to Bulgaria’s Varna; the underwater section will be long 900 km.

In Bulgaria, the pipe is supposed to split in two – one pipeline going to Greece and Southern Italy, and another one going to Austria and Northern Italy through Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia.

The project was initiated by Gazprom and the Italian company Eni, and the French company EdF is also planned to join as a shareholder. It is seen as a competitor to the EU-sponsored project Nabucco seeking to bring non-Russian gas to Europe.

As early as April 2010, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced that the French company EDF will also become a partner in the South Stream project. Back then he said that EDF asked for a 20% share, which, if granted, will probably leaveGazprom and Eni with 40% each. There is no indication as to how the joining ofRWE or some other German company would re-apportion the stakes.

Novinite: Russian Press: Bulgaria ‘the Problematic’ Country for South Stream

Bulgaria is the country which was named as problematic for the realization of theSouth Stream gas transit pipeline mentioned by Italian PM Berlusconi in St. Petersburg on Saturday.

The South Stream pipeline, which is supposed to bring Russian natural to Southern and Central Europe by going around Belarus and Ukraine, is facing some troubles that were discussed by Berlusconi and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, the Russian papep Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes on Monday in an article entitled “Bulgarian Stumbling Block for South Stream.”

“Right now, there remain some issues that relate to the passage of this project through some of the country. I will probably work from a diplomatic point of view on one of the countries to convince it not not to put forward any difficulties on this project,” said Berlusconi without specifying which is the country in question.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, however, quotes analysts, who believe that the problematic country along the route could be only Bulgaria. It reports that the issues with thepipeline going through Turkey‘s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the Black Sea have almost been resolved.

The cited Russian experts are convinced that Bulgaria is the major factor stalling the pipe, as it is trying to wrest additional benefits for itself from the shareholders. What is more, the EU itself is said to have certain claims for the pipeline as it is hoping to diversify its natural gas supplies, most notably with the Nabucco pipeline.

Nezavisimaya Gazetta says that while Turkey used to be the main problem for South Stream – as it issued a permit for surveys of its Black Sea shelf but was slow in issuing a permit for the construction of the actual pipeline, now Bulgaria as emerged as the main stumbling stone with the new center-right government in power since July 2009 “threatening to terminate all energy contracts that its predecessors made with Moscow.”

The paper says that in order to get the go-ahead for South Stream from Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov in July 2010, Moscow had to make certain concessions, including the reduction of the natural gas prices for Bulgarian consumers and altering the fees it pays Bulgaria for its gas transit to Turkey and Greece.

It adds that at the beginning of August 2010, Serbia, which also a partner in South Stream, made an agreement with Bulgaria about the route of the pipe that could make the project more expensive. Commenting on the situation, the experts approached by Nezavisimiya Gazerta say Bulgaria is the major factor creating issues for the project.

“I can think of only one problematic country – this is Bulgaria. The fears that the gaspipeline might go around Bulgaria, and through Romania are not accidental. Most probably, the Bulgarians want new concessions from Moscow. They will most likely agree if they get some benefits such as favorable credits, and participation in the construction of Bulgarian subcontractors. As far as Europe is concerned, it could be a serious obstacle for South Stream, if the realization of the alternative projectNabucco was not being delayed. But despite its desire to diversify its energy supplies, Brussels has nothing to do,” says Sergey Pravosudov from Russia‘s National Energy Institute.

“As far as the stumbling block is concerned, this is probably Bulgaria which expects clear explanations from Russia with respect to the energy projects such as the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline. By the way, Russia is ready to realize another similar project, Samsun-Ceyhan, through Turkey,” says Mikhail Krutihin, partner at the RusEnergy consultancy.

He believes that Sofia is trying to wrest certain benefits for itself. At the same time, he deems it likely that some of the countries along the route of South Stream will try to buy the Russian gas at their border, and then to reexport it.

Krutihin says Gazprom is trying to get the European Commission to give South Stream a status as part of the Trans-European Network, which would accelerate the realization of the project a great deal. He points out that when a similar Russian project, North Stream, got such status, its construction went ahead with record speed.

The expert has pointed out that the estimates that South Stream will cost about USD 23 B are a substantial issue as the transit states would have no money to fund the sections on their territory.

The South Stream gas transit pipeline is supposed to be ready by 2015. Its construction is expected to cost between EUR 19 B and EUR 24 B. It will be transporting 63 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually, or 35% of Russia‘s total annual natural gas export to Europe.

The South Stream pipe will start near Novorosiysk on the Russian Black Sea coast, and will go to Bulgaria’s Varna; the underwater section will be long 900 km.

In Bulgaria, the pipe is supposed to split in two – one pipeline going to Greece and Southern Italy, and another one going to Austria and Northern Italy through Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia.

The project was initiated by Gazprom and the Italian company Eni, and the French company EdF is also planned to join as a shareholder. It is seen as a competitor to the EU-sponsored project Nabucco seeking to bring non-Russian gas to Europe.

As early as April 2010, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced that the French company EDF will also become a partner in the South Stream project. Back then he said that EDF asked for a 20% share, which, if granted, will probably leaveGazprom and Eni with 40% each.

During their meeting on Saturday in St. Petersburg, Berlusconi and Putin welcomed the idea of having German companies join in as shareholders. There is no indication as to how the joining of RWE or some other German company would re-apportion the stakes.

Novinite: Gazprom CEO Miller to Visit Bulgaria

Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller will visit Bulgaria Friday to discuss delivery of Russiannatural gas and the future South Stream gas pipeline project.

The information was confirmed by the Bulgarian Ministry of Economy and Energy. In Buglaria, Miller will hold talks with PM Boyko Borisov and Minister of Economy and Energy Traicho Traikov.

Bulgaria has had an uncertain stance on South Stream, which has led to an activizing on the part of the Russian side. Just Monday Russian press characterized Buglaria as the “problematic” country for South Stream.

Bulgaria has been committed to the execution of the EU-sponsored Nabucco gas pipeline project, which is widely seen as rival to South Stream.

Nevertheless, in July Russia secured commitment on the part of Bulgaria for South Stream, after visits by first deputy-PM Viktor Zubkov and energy minister Sergey Shmatko.

Novinite: Gazprom Prepares Romania’s South Stream Accession in 2011

Russian energy company Gazprom and Romania‘s Transgas have made a deal considered the last step before Romania formally joins the South Stream pipeline.

Gazprom said in a statement that it had signed a memorandum of mutual understanding with Romania‘s Transgas SA to establish a joint group of experts, who will conduct a technical and economic assessment of the pipeline construction in Romania.

“If the results of the assessment are positive, Gazprom and Transgas will suggest signing a Russian-Romanian intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in theSouth Stream project in the first quarter of 2011. The agreement will be the political, international and legal basis for further development of the project inRomania,” the statement said as cited by RIA Novosti.

After meeting Romanian officials in Bucharest on Wednesday, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said he had no doubts the South Stream pipeline will be finished in 2015.

He made it clear the deal made in Bucharest brought Romania a step closer to becoming part of South Stream.

“We have signed a document to make a technical, economic analysis of a pipelinetransiting Romania and after this analysis we can sign an intergovernmental agreement,” Miller said as quoted by Romanian media.

Thus, the agreement for Romania‘s accession to South Stream will most likely be signed in the first quarter of 2011.

Russia and Romania first started talks for that in June fueling fears in Bulgaria thatRomania‘s inclusion into the project – combined with Macedonia’s accession for which talks are under way – might allow the Russians to go around Bulgaria as a result of the Borisov Cabinet balking at two other large-scale Russian-sponsored energy deals – the Belene NPP and the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline.

While Russia sought to refute such fears by saying that Romania will only be supplied with gas through South Stream, and most likely will not be a transit country, recent publications in the Russian media interpreting a statement by Italian PM Berlusconi that Bulgaria was creating difficulties for the project continue to fuel suspicions that Moscow might swap Bulgaria for Romania.

The South Stream gas transit pipeline is supposed to be ready by 2015. Its construction is expected to cost between EUR 19 B and EUR 24 B. It will be transporting 63 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually, or 35% of Russia‘s total annual natural gas export to Europe.

The South Stream pipe will start near Novorosiysk on the Russian Black Sea coast, and will go to Bulgaria’s Varna; the underwater section will be long 900 km.

In Bulgaria, the pipe is supposed to split in two – one pipeline going to Greece and Southern Italy, and another one going to Austria and Northern Italy through Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia.

The project was initiated by Gazprom and the Italian company Eni, and the French company EdF is also planned to join as a shareholder. It is seen as a competitor to the EU-sponsored project Nabucco seeking to bring non-Russian gas to Europe.

As early as April 2010, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced that the French company EDF will also become a partner in the South Stream project. Back then he said that EDF asked for a 20% share, which, if granted, will probably leaveGazprom and Eni with 40% each.

At their meeting on Saturday in St. Petersburg, Berlusconi and Putin welcomed the idea of having German companies join in as shareholders. There is no indication as to how the joining of RWE or some other German company would re-apportion the stakes.

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