Do the United States Hit out against the So-Called "Balkan Stream"?
We are yet to see what will happen to "Turkish Stream" and its continuation through Bulgaria to Serbia, the latter being named by the government as "Balkan Stream".
"We heard about US sanctions a few days ago from Mike Pompeo. The main Swiss-Dutch contractor has left Nord Stream. Increasing Russia's influence through gas projects will affect European countries politically and militarily.
The government has long avoided the term "Balkan Stream" which is not really a gas network expansion but a transit of Russian gas to Europe. The government's commitment to Russia was so great that at the height of the pandemic, coronavirus-infected Italians came to build the Balkan Stream. The BGN 3 billion we have been spending on the pipes to Serbia could have gone to new energy technologies," former Energy Minister Traicho Traikov explained.
At the same time, the United States imposed new sanctions on Nord Stream 2 and Turkish Stream. The US House of Representatives has unanimously approved a tightening of the sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and the second Turkish Stream pipeline.
In late December last year, President Donald Trump signed the military budget for the current fiscal year, which obliges the US government to impose sanctions on both projects. A sanctioning procedure is now pending in Congress.
Experts say the threat of US sanctions on some energy projects in Europe is not novel, it has been in force since 2017. It is not clear at this time which companies will be affected, there have been talks of certain measures against Nord Stream-2 and the second line of Turkish Stream. The important question for Bulgaria is whether Balkan Stream is part of Turkish Stream.
"This issue, in my opinion, is not on the agenda in the United States, because I think it is clear to everyone that regardless of the name of the route that passes through Bulgaria, coming from Turkey and reaching Serbia, this is in fact part of the "Turkish Stream" and it will automatically fall under the sanctions that were announced. So any other interpretations tend to evade the truth but it will not have any effect ", the energy specialist Vasko Nachev explained.
However, the expert Prof. Atanas Tasev has a different opinion. According to him, there is no danger that the Balkan Stream project will fall under possible sanctions from the United States. Tasev clarified that it was an attack against "Turkish Stream" and not against "Balkan Stream", as the main attack was mostly against "North Stream 2". He pointed out that the difference between Nord Stream 2 and Balkan Stream is huge. In addition, there is no "Turkish Stream" in Bulgaria. There is no Russian participation in the construction of "Balkan Stream", it is only gas transmission.
We have already spent EUR 650m on the second Turkish Stream pipeline or the so-called Balkan Stream. Apart from the pipes, two compressor stations with American equipment must be built and delivered, which is the neuralgic point of the project.