Published by Wikileaks & Bivol.bg
 id: 192521 date: 2/18/2009 8:11 refid: 09SOFIA70 origin: Embassy Sofia classification: CONFIDENTIAL destination: 09SOFIA60 header: VZCZCXRO5093 OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR DE RUEHSF #0070/01 0490811 ZNY CCCCC ZZH O 180811Z FEB 09 FM AMEMBASSY SOFIA TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5774 INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY   C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 SOFIA 000070    SIPDIS    E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/16/2019  TAGS: ENRG, ECON, PREL, PGOV  SUBJECT: BULGARIA:  MINISTER OF ENERGY ON POST-GAS CRISIS  STRATEGY    REF: SOFIA 0060    Classified By: Ambassador Nancy McEldowney for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).     1.  (C)  Summary:  Minister of Economy and Energy Petar  Dimitrov used a February 13 meeting with the Ambassador to  lay out Bulgaria's post-gas crisis energy strategy.  Heavy on  diversification projects, the as-yet unwritten plan seeks to  distance Bulgaria from Russian energy sources.  In the  two-hour meeting, Dimitrov did not once mention South Stream.  Instead, he accused Russia of blackmailing Bulgaria into  dropping compensation claims against Gazprom by threatening  retaliation for Bulgarian arms sales to Georgia. He  questioned the future of the Russian-led Belene nuclear power  plant project while stoking interest in a separate, proposed  Westinghouse-led project.  He commited to support efforts to  improve transparency in Bulgaria's notoriously-opaque energy  sector and pled for Washington attendance at Bulgaria's April  24-25 Energy Security Summit, so that the event would not  become "a ball at which only Putin will dance." End Summary.      A DECIDEDLY ANTI-RUSSIAN MESSAGE  --------------------------------    2.  (C)  Dimitrov's February 13 message had a decidedly  anti-Russian tone.  He described Bulgarian preparations to  launch a legal claim against Gazprom for the losses Bulgaria  incurred as a result of January's two-week gas cut off.  The  Russians continue to claim that Ukraine is the guilty party,  but, Dimitrov said, "we have no contracts with Ukraine."  He  said it was clear that Gazprom did not supply Ukraine with  the volumes of gas needed for export, so Gazprom is clearly  "at fault."  Dimitrov said Putin has acknowledged that the  Socialist-led Bulgarian government suffered clear political  losses during the crisis, and as a consequence the Russians  have hinted at some flexibility on the issue of abandoning  the shady Gazprom-owned intermediaries currently operating in  the Bulgarian gas market.  But this hint of flexibility is a  ruse, indicated Dimitrov, as Russia is now threatening to  invoke sanctions against Bulgaria for providing arms to  Georgia, if Bulgaria proceeds with its Gazprom compensation  claim.  Dependent on Russian maintenance and spare parts for  large swaths of its Soviet-era military hardware, such  sanctions would deal a severe blow to the Bulgarian military  and hurt its ability to meet its NATO commitments, said  Dimitrov.      LITANY OF DIVERSIFICATION PROJECTS, WITH AN EMPHASIS ON TURKEY  --------------------------------------------- -----------------    3.  (C)  Dimitrov recounted a list of diversification  projects that the gas crisis placed on the front burner:  expansion of gas storage, gas interconnections and LNG  cooperation with Greece and Turkey, greater support for  on-going domestic gas exploration and extraction, especially  with the British company Melrose at Kaliakra and with the  Colorado-based Direct Petroleum at Deventsi.  While it was  Greece that came through for Bulgaria during the gas crisis,  the Bulgarians are especially keen to pursue greater energy  cooperation with Turkey and they are seeking our help to  develop more of an appetite on Turkey's part for such  cooperation.  Possibilities include making the gas pipelines  between Bulgarian and Turkey reversible, pursuing a  Turkey-Greece-Italy Interconnector hook-up in Turkey (if the  Greece TGI hook-up does not materialize), Bulgarian access to  Turkey's LNG facilities, and dusting off plans for joint  hydro projects.    4.  (C)  Dimitrov hinted at problems at the Belene Nuclear  Power Plant project (being built by Russia's AtomStroyExport)  and made a full court press to get Westinghouse interested in  a new nuclear project, Kozluduy 7 and 8.  While the  government remains commited to Belene, Dimitrov said Bulgaria  would be interested in taking a minority stake of a future  Kozluduy 7 and 8 project, if Westinghouse would take the  lead.  The Ambassador commited to sharing Bulgaria's interest  with Westinghouse.  (Note: problems at the Belene NPP are  being reported septel.)    THE APRIL ENERGY SUMMIT  -----------------------    5.  (C)  In a now common-refrain, Dimitrov pled with the  Ambassador for high-level Washington representation at the  April 24-25 Energy Security Summit, which will likely be held  in Bulgaria's second city Plovdiv.  Dimitrov worried that    SOFIA 00000070  002 OF 002      without high level USG representation, the summit would be  unbalanced -  "a ball at which only Putin would dance."  The  Ambassador indicated it was still too early to know who might  attend from Washington, but Bulgaria could improve the  profile of the summit by offering a clear vision of what  would be accomplished.  An emphasis on achieving greater  energy security through diversification and increased  transparency would be a start.    6.  (C)  Comment:  Normally soft-spoken, on-message and  hesitant to criticize Russia, Dimitrov has delivered an  increasingly anti-Russia message of late. This meeting with  the Ambassador (where South Stream was not mentioned once) is  another indication that change is afoot.  The gas cut-off has  opened some eyes and changed the dynamic.  The test will come  when it is time to turn this hard talk into concrete action.    McEldowney   

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