If diplomacy is a dance, then Romania just found its dance card full. Shortly after accepting Washington’s invitation to join the missile defence shield quadrille, Bucharest is now being courted by Moscow to be taken for a South Stream spin.
At the start of his first term as president of Romania, Traian Basescu said that his foreign policies would be aimed at building what he called a „Washington-London-Bucharest axis”, which resulted in Romania quickly agreeing to deploy troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as to host US military personnel.
That policy line appeared to be reinforced on February 4, when Basescu said that the country’s supreme defence council, which he chairs, had agreed to the country taking part in US president Barack Obama’s revised plan for a missile defence shield system.
Two weeks later, however, Romania also gave the first indication that it could be willing to participate in Russia’s South Stream gas pipeline project. The invitation was officially made by Alexander Medvedev, the deputy chairperson of Gazprom’s management board and chief executive of Gazprom Export, the export arm of the Russian giant, during a visit to Bucharest on February 17.
After the meeting, Romania’s economy minister Adriean Videanu was moderately optimistic about the talks on the issue, set to continue in March, but did not make any commitments. In the meantime, Romania provided Gazprom with the data needed to carry out a feasibility study.
„Romania will analyse with interest any initiative that contributes to the energy security of Romania and the European Union,” he said in a statement. „In March, a delegation of Gazprom experts will arrive in Bucharest for detailed talks. Depending on the new data that we receive, we will make our position known.”
Nevertheless, the very fact of ongoing negotiations is important. Of all the countries that signed the charter of the Nabucco pipeline, Romania was the last to hold out from South Stream, with Bulgaria, Hungary and Turkey brought on board one by one.
Nabucco is backed by the US as an alternative to South Stream, although participants in both consortiums have repeatedly gone out of their way to emphasise that the two pipelines were not direct competitors. With a full capacity of 31 billion cubic metres of gas a year, Nabucco is meant to pump Caspian Sea gas into Europe, lessening some of EU’s dependence on Russian supplies, though not eliminating it entirely.
Construction of Nabucco is expected to start in 2011 and start pumping gas two years later. Its costs are estimated to be much lower than South Stream’s, which targets 2015 as the start of operations, but is uncertain about the final bill for the project.
Gazprom has consistently attempted to undermine Nabucco, branding it a political undertaking and pointing out the rival project’s difficulties in securing gas from potential suppliers. After seeing its gas sales in Europe drop by 11.7 per cent in 2009 and export revenues fall below domestic figures for the first time ever, according to Russian business daily Vedomosti, Gazprom can hardly afford to lose any more ground.

Read the article on Sofia Echo

Gas game

If diplomacy is a dance, then Romania just found its dance card full. Shortly after accepting Washington’s invitation to join the missile defence shield quadrille, Bucharest is now being courted by Moscow to be taken for a South Stream spin.
At the start of his first term as president of Romania, Traian Basescu said that his foreign policies would be aimed at building what he called a „Washington-London-Bucharest axis”, which resulted in Romania quickly agreeing to deploy troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as to host US military personnel.
That policy line appeared to be reinforced on February 4, when Basescu said that the country’s supreme defence council, which he chairs, had agreed to the country taking part in US president Barack Obama’s revised plan for a missile defence shield system.
Two weeks later, however, Romania also gave the first indication that it could be willing to participate in Russia’s South Stream gas pipeline project. The invitation was officially made by Alexander Medvedev, the deputy chairperson of Gazprom’s management board and chief executive of Gazprom Export, the export arm of the Russian giant, during a visit to Bucharest on February 17.
After the meeting, Romania’s economy minister Adriean Videanu was moderately optimistic about the talks on the issue, set to continue in March, but did not make any commitments. In the meantime, Romania provided Gazprom with the data needed to carry out a feasibility study.
„Romania will analyse with interest any initiative that contributes to the energy security of Romania and the European Union,” he said in a statement. „In March, a delegation of Gazprom experts will arrive in Bucharest for detailed talks. Depending on the new data that we receive, we will make our position known.”
Nevertheless, the very fact of ongoing negotiations is important. Of all the countries that signed the charter of the Nabucco pipeline, Romania was the last to hold out from South Stream, with Bulgaria, Hungary and Turkey brought on board one by one.
Nabucco is backed by the US as an alternative to South Stream, although participants in both consortiums have repeatedly gone out of their way to emphasise that the two pipelines were not direct competitors. With a full capacity of 31 billion cubic metres of gas a year, Nabucco is meant to pump Caspian Sea gas into Europe, lessening some of EU’s dependence on Russian supplies, though not eliminating it entirely.
Construction of Nabucco is expected to start in 2011 and start pumping gas two years later. Its costs are estimated to be much lower than South Stream’s, which targets 2015 as the start of operations, but is uncertain about the final bill for the project.
Gazprom has consistently attempted to undermine Nabucco, branding it a political undertaking and pointing out the rival project’s difficulties in securing gas from potential suppliers. After seeing its gas sales in Europe drop by 11.7 per cent in 2009 and export revenues fall below domestic figures for the first time ever, according to Russian business daily Vedomosti, Gazprom can hardly afford to lose any more ground.

Read the article on Sofia Echo

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