* Bulgaria hopes to attract Russian, Caspian gas for its gas
* Wants joint Sofia/Moscow/Brussels meeting to attract
* Plans to offer up to 50 percent stake in the hub to
By Tsvetelia Tsolova
VARNA, Bulgaria, Sept 5 Bulgaria plans a
feasibility study next year for a 1.5 billion euros ($1.67
billion) natural gas hub at the Black Sea port of Varna that
would store and transport gas from Russia and the Caspian Sea to
southeastern and central Europe.
Bulgaria's plans for the hub follow the cancellation of
Gazprom's South Stream gas pipeline project that would
have shipped Russian gas under the Black Sea via Bulgaria to
central Europe. The scrapping of South Stream was a blow to
Bulgaria, which relies almost exclusively on Russian gas.
In creating the hub, Bulgaria would use gas pipeline links
it is already building with neighbouring Greece, Serbia, Romania
and Turkey, and eventually also an undersea pipeline from
The aim is to attract foreign investors for the hub and
construction would start in 2021.
Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boiko Borisov on Monday urged
Brussels to take part in a meeting with Russia to help to get
the project moving.
Sofia hopes that Moscow can still be persuaded to build a
pipeline under the Black Sea to Bulgaria and ship its supplies
to central Europe through the hub, dubbed "Balkan".
"We will not allow Bulgaria to be bypassed," Borisov told an
investor roundtable for the hub.
"That is why you (the European Commission) owe it to us now
and look to Bulgaria and help do the work quickly," he said.
Gazprom said earlier on Monday it planned to push ahead with
plans to build the Turkish Stream gas pipeline, the project that
replaced South Stream, which can further be extended to
Sofia hopes to take a final investment decision for the hub
in 2020 and will offer investors up to a 50 percent stake in the
venture, Georgi Gegov, head of gas network operator
($1 = 0.8961 euros)
(Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; editing by Radu Marinas and