Bulgaria PM says work on South Stream gas pipeline not stopped

SOFIA, March 10 Mon Mar 10, 2014 4:18pm IST

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SOFIA, March 10 (Reuters) - Bulgaria hasn't stopped preliminary work on the Russian-led South Stream gas pipeline project, its prime minister said on Monday, but added Sofia was "closely monitoring" relations between Brussels and Moscow over the turmoil in Ukraine.

The comments at a press conference came after Bulgaria's foreign minister over the weekend said work on the pipeline should probably be suspended for a few days or weeks in view of the political upheaval in the nearby Ukraine.

"Preliminary work on South Stream is being carried out, it has not stopped. But in the next weeks we will monitor closely the relations between European Union and Russia," Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski said.

Russia has started building a 2,400 km (1,490 mile) South Stream gas pipeline, aimed to transport up to 63 billion cubic metres of gas through the Black Sea to southeastern Europe, bypassing Ukraine, by 2018.

EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger is to delay talks with Russia on the project, he told a German newspaper on Monday, in response to the crisis in Crimea.

(Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Matthias Williams)

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