Sinking of Kremlin gas project leaves south-east Europe high and dry

Tue Dec 2, 2014 11:38am GMT

* Kremlin drops South Stream project, blaming EU obstructions

* Bulgaria, Hungary, Serbia were counting on pipeline

* Onus now on EU to come up with alternative solutions

By Michael Kahn and Tsvetelia Tsolova

PRAGUE/SOFIA, Dec 2 (Reuters) - The European Union's diplomatic victory in forcing the Kremlin to cancel its South Stream pipeline also gives Brussels a headache: how to come up with an alternative source of secure gas supply for south-eastern Europe.

Though it became politically toxic after the crisis in Ukraine, the pipeline made sense for countries such as Serbia, Bulgaria and Hungary because it offered a supply of gas that did not pass through Ukraine and so was at less risk of disruption.

Other ideas have been floated that would give south-eastern Europe those secure alternative supplies, but none are as far advanced as South Stream, leaving the countries in the region to face several years of uncertainty.

"Would it have been better had we had South Stream? Absolutely?" Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic was quoted as saying by state television. "We are paying the price of a conflict between big powers."

Russia said on Monday it was scrapping South Stream. The project would have transported Russian gas under the Black Sea, making landfall in Bulgaria and then passing through Serbia and Hungary into Austria.   Continued...

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