South Stream Sticks with Bulgaria.
South Stream Transport AG, the offshore company developing the Russian-backed natural gas pipeline, told New Europe that it is sticking with its plans with a landfall in Bulgaria and is looking at a final investment decision for the offshore section in late November, and construction to start in December. "For South Stream Transport I can say that we are planning as a base case with a landfall in Bulgaria. Romania has always been an option but the base case has been and remains Bulgaria and the final investment decision for the offshore project is scheduled now for late November this year," South Stream spokesman Sebastian Sass said on 23 March. "As far as we would stick with that base case that would obviously require that the Bulgarian joint venture South Stream Bulgaria would make a respective decision on constructing the onshore infrastructure which is needed to receive and transport the gas from the offshore pipeline," Sass added.
On 19 March, Russian gas monopoly Gazprom said a final investment decision on the Bulgarian leg of South Stream is expected by November. Gazprom Chairman Alexei Miller met with Dimitar Gogov, his counterpart at Bulgargaz, in Moscow. "From all I hear South Stream Bulgaria is on track to providing the onshore infrastructure that would be needed for the base case landfall in Bulgaria," Sass said. "I think it is in inline with the project development in our section, the offshore project."
On 19 March, Miller also nominated the former mayor of Hamburg, Henning Voscherau, to head the board of South Stream. Voscherau is also a former president of Germany's upper house of parliament. He is the brother of Eggert Voscherau, who heads the board of directors at BASF, one of the shareholders in the project. "Voscherau is a very respected politician in Germany and has great credentials," Sass said. "I used to live in Hamburg when he was mayor so I'm quite aware of the fact that he has an outstanding reputation and also international exposure from being mayor of one major port city in Europe. I think he will be very important person in chairing the board meetings and lining in the interests that you have of different shareholders in this kind of large project; he will be very good person to integrate all the partners and represent the project to the outside world."
Voscherau -- like former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who in December 2005 was named Chairman of the Northern European Gas Pipeline Company, Gazprom's pipe-building subsidiary that pushed through the Nord Stream gas pipeline -- is another high-ranking former German official aiming to help Gazprom accelerate its gas projects in Europe. "Schroeder is Chairman of the shareholders committee with Nord Stream and the equal position in South Stream - the Chairman of the Board - would now be Henning Voscherau," Sass said. "Both projects and South Stream specifically are large-scale international projects and they need rather unique personalities with strong credentials that are able to integrate all the partners and to represent the project," he added. Voscherau will increase the credibility of South Stream, he said, adding that "personalities like these would only commit to a project they look at great detail and find very convincing".