SOFIA WILL DROP FROM THE ENERGY MARKET
The consecutive episode of the negotiations electricity against infrastructure, that ended during the week in Sofia, showed that official Ankara has not only accepted the new international rules, but is also successfully applying them, despite of the signed long-term trade contracts and the compensations and forfeits, stipulated by them, amounting to several hundreds of US dollars. Simply because the electricity market in the region is open and Turkey as a buyer may choose both the producer and the terms of the purchase itself. Unlike its neighbours Bulgaria seems to have failed to overstep in the new times. The reasons can only be guessed at. But the lack of orientation in the changes global energy market might well leave Bulgaria outside of it. As branch experts had forecast, during the negotiations on October 15 and 16 with the managerial team of the National Electricity Company (NEC) the Turkish delegation, headed by the Deputy Energy Minister Selahin Cimen and the Director General of TETAS Haci Gyokaya, demanded lower prices and revocation of the fixed quantities for annual export. TETAS asked to order in future only seasonal quantities (e.g. for the next three or six months) and the NEC to continue guaranteeing sure and continuous deliveries and to be ready to increase or reduce them by several times for each next period. That is inofficial information. The NEC officially announced that progress was made during the two-day negotiations and issues for a future high-level meeting were at defined. But it's certian that the high level won't change the Turkish position. Experts and executives of the Bulgarian Energy Ministry should be well aware that Turkey has several possibilities to compensate electricity supply from Bulgaria, reduced back on April 23. Along its European borders Turkey may rely on electricity supply from the Western Balkans - via Macedonia and Greece - but these deliveries will be only seasonal (mostly the surplus electricity generated by hydroelectric power stations in Croatia). However, its price is competitive to that, negotiated with the NEC. During the last three tenders in the region (for Albania in December 2002 and for Serbia and Greece in September 2003) the offered prices were in the range of 3.408 to 3.339 cents per kWh, i.e. down from the 3.55 cents/kWh, stipulated in the contract between the NEC and TEAS in 1999. Still, new and much cheaper energy deliveries to Turkey may be launched through Romania. For example, from the Moldovian GRES (which has at least 1,000 megawatt capacity frozen because of the lack of buyers).Again through Romania, Ankara may start receiving electricity from Kiev, too. In the last three years, Ukraine has invested over USD100MN in the construction of the so-called Burshtinski island. Officially, the island includes two heating plants, one water power plant, as well as the electricity networks of three West Ukranian regions. The total production capacity is slightly less than 300 megawatt and, in the era of Comecon, it used to export 18 billion kWh of electricity per year. Now, electricity that passes through the island is synchronized with the one running in the united paneuropean networks UCTE. That's why it can be exported not only to Greece and Turkey (through Romania), but also to Hungary, Poland, and the Western Balkans. According to official information, in the first half of 2003 the monopolist Ukrinterenergo exported 1,508.1 million kWh to Hungary, 69.9 million kWh to Slovakia, and 462.4 million kWh to Poland. The most important thing is not the renewed chance for export of Ukranian electricity to Central Europe, but the price cost of the electricity produced on the island - some EUR0.44. Whatever the fees for its transportation to a Turkish border, it will be several times cheaper than the Bulgarian one.As a matter of fact, Ukranian electricity is not the only one that can reach Turkey through the Burshtinski island. Since the Russian president Vladimir Putin proclaimed the establishment of an Euroasian economic community this autumn, the Russian monopolist United Energy Systems reported that, in practice, the energy unanimity of all post Soviet countries has been restored. The energy bridge from Turkmenistan to Russia already operates permanently, crossing Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. In parallel, there is also the Asian union including the networks of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan. Then, the Mir energy system will come to life again, including the networks of the former socialist countries. States in Central Europe (Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary) are now part of the paneuropean UCTE system. From January 1, 2004, the networks of Bulgaria and Romania will be included in it, too.Considering these perspectives, in their current negotiations on electricity with Turkey Bulgarian energy directors can now rely only on the guaranteed safety of Bulgarian deliveries and the fact that they will remain permanent in the next five years at least.