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Bulgaria reportedly completes Balkan Stream, connects to Serbian pipeline

Bulgaria has reportedly completed its section of the Turkish Stream pipeline, dubbed Balkan Stream, and has connected it to the Serbian part of the pipeline, b92 reported on November 9, quoting unnamed sources.

Bulgaria’s government has named its section of the Turkish Stream pipeline Balkan Stream in an attempt to show it does not only plan to use the pipeline for Russian gas. However, the US has warned it considering this to be the same pipeline and threatened to sanction all companies participating in its construction.

According to the sources quoted by b92, Bulgaria has completed the project but did no organise an official launch ceremony due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In February, Bulgaria said that it will not stop the construction of Balkan Stream upon US pressure, claiming it is a local project that has nothing to do with Turkish Stream. However, several months earlier the same project was formally recognised as part of the Turkish Stream pipeline. Gazprom has decided that its second line will span Bulgaria and Serbia starting from 2020, then go through Hungary and Slovakia starting from 2021 and the second half of 2022, respectively.

Turkish Stream spans a 930-km route across the Black Sea. It helps to meet Turkey’s ambition of becoming a gas hub serving European markets. However, analysts have noted that Turkey will not be able to use its role as a transit state for Russian gas to Europe as leverage over Moscow because if it attempted to play politics in that way the Kremlin could simply switch gas volumes back to Ukraine.