• 2 hours Oil Nears $52 With Record OPEC Deal Compliance
  • 5 hours Saudi Aramco CEO Affirms IPO On Track For H2 2018
  • 7 hours Canadia Ltd. Returns To Sudan For First Time Since Oil Price Crash
  • 8 hours Syrian Rebel Group Takes Over Oil Field From IS
  • 3 days PDVSA Booted From Caribbean Terminal Over Unpaid Bills
  • 3 days Russia Warns Ukraine Against Recovering Oil Off The Coast Of Crimea
  • 3 days Syrian Rebels Relinquish Control Of Major Gas Field
  • 3 days Schlumberger Warns Of Moderating Investment In North America
  • 3 days Oil Prices Set For Weekly Loss As Profit Taking Trumps Mideast Tensions
  • 3 days Energy Regulators Look To Guard Grid From Cyberattacks
  • 3 days Mexico Says OPEC Has Not Approached It For Deal Extension
  • 3 days New Video Game Targets Oil Infrastructure
  • 3 days Shell Restarts Bonny Light Exports
  • 3 days Russia’s Rosneft To Take Majority In Kurdish Oil Pipeline
  • 4 days Iraq Struggles To Replace Damaged Kirkuk Equipment As Output Falls
  • 4 days British Utility Companies Brace For Major Reforms
  • 4 days Montenegro A ‘Sweet Spot’ Of Untapped Oil, Gas In The Adriatic
  • 4 days Rosneft CEO: Rising U.S. Shale A Downside Risk To Oil Prices
  • 4 days Brazil Could Invite More Bids For Unsold Pre-Salt Oil Blocks
  • 4 days OPEC/Non-OPEC Seek Consensus On Deal Before Nov Summit
  • 4 days London Stock Exchange Boss Defends Push To Win Aramco IPO
  • 4 days Rosneft Signs $400M Deal With Kurdistan
  • 4 days Kinder Morgan Warns About Trans Mountain Delays
  • 5 days India, China, U.S., Complain Of Venezuelan Crude Oil Quality Issues
  • 5 days Kurdish Kirkuk-Ceyhan Crude Oil Flows Plunge To 225,000 Bpd
  • 5 days Russia, Saudis Team Up To Boost Fracking Tech
  • 5 days Conflicting News Spurs Doubt On Aramco IPO
  • 5 days Exxon Starts Production At New Refinery In Texas
  • 5 days Iraq Asks BP To Redevelop Kirkuk Oil Fields
  • 6 days Oil Prices Rise After U.S. API Reports Strong Crude Inventory Draw
  • 6 days Oil Gains Spur Growth In Canada’s Oil Cities
  • 6 days China To Take 5% Of Rosneft’s Output In New Deal
  • 6 days UAE Oil Giant Seeks Partnership For Possible IPO
  • 6 days Planting Trees Could Cut Emissions As Much As Quitting Oil
  • 6 days VW Fails To Secure Critical Commodity For EVs
  • 6 days Enbridge Pipeline Expansion Finally Approved
  • 6 days Iraqi Forces Seize Control Of North Oil Co Fields In Kirkuk
  • 6 days OPEC Oil Deal Compliance Falls To 86%
  • 7 days U.S. Oil Production To Increase in November As Rig Count Falls
  • 7 days Gazprom Neft Unhappy With OPEC-Russia Production Cut Deal
Alt Text

The U.S. Shale Play To Watch In 2018

The original U.S. shale gas…

Alt Text

The Approaching U.S. Energy-Economic Crisis

The connection between energy and…

Alt Text

Oil Shows Weakness, But Don’t Expect A Plunge

Oil prices remained firm this…

Daniel J. Graeber

Daniel J. Graeber

Daniel Graeber is a writer and political analyst based in Michigan. His work on matters related to the geopolitical aspects of the global energy sector,…

More Info

Sofia Winning the European Energy Game

Sofia Winning the European Energy Game

The Bulgarian government finally divorced itself from the Belene nuclear power plant after dumping almost a billion dollars into the project. The decision was expected given Sofia's new-found reluctance to deal with Russia on most energy projects. At the same time, however, the government has shown that you can have your Russian cake and eat it too because, as it was balking on the nuclear power plant, it was giving priority status to Russia's natural gas pipeline for Europe, South Stream.

Prime Minister Boiko Borisov said the Bulgarian economy couldn't stomach the cost of limping along with plans for the 2,000 megawatt facility on the Danube River and decided instead to focus on a new natural gas plant. Two years ago, the government had already signaled it didn't have the finances to move ahead with the nuclear power plant after German energy company RWE pulled out because of funding woes. Later in December 2010, Sofia took another swipe at Russian energy projects and balked on the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline nearly 20 years after it was proposed.

The Bulgarian government since 2009 has stepped away from Russian energy projects, saying few of them were economically feasible nor where they in the national interest. Sofia has likely the weakest economy in the European Union and already spent close to $1 billion on the Belene project. Meanwhile, the government has embraced Nabucco, the natural gas pipeline once hailed as the panacea for European energy security. The European government, along with its partners in Washington, has expressed concern about Russia's grip on the energy sector and it appears Sofia's decision on Belene means Bulgarian national interest are coordinated with the West's.

But not so fast. This is the Balkans, where Western and former Soviet interests started colliding long before the Berlin Wall was even dreamed up. Borders may change but geopolitical dynamics rarely do. At the same time that Sofia was washing its hands of Belene, it was cozying up to South Stream, Moscow's counterpart to Nabucco. But it did so in exchange for cheaper natural gas, no easy feat with Russia.

For countries along the de facto border between the West and the rest like Ukraine, it's not so easy to change valence states and move from one geopolitical pole to the other. Kiev on one hand wants a better relationship with Europe, but its political record under the Yanukovych administration suggests there may be some Cold War allegiances remaining in Kiev. Meanwhile, it's paying some of the highest rates for Russian natural gas in all of Europe.

Bulgaria gets nearly all of its natural gas from Russia and state-owned Lukoil owns most of Bulgaria's only refinery in working order. By playing its political cards the right way, however, it walked away from Belene but gained gas assurances from South Stream and Nabucco. Sofia only managed short-term concessions from Russia's Gazprom on natural gas, but if it continues on its current course, it may become a key strategic energy hub in southern Europe because it knows how to play the European energy game.

By. Daniel J. Graeber of Oilprice.com




Back to homepage


Leave a comment

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News