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Minister Omerzel: “Slovenia believes that the South Stream remains a major energy project both for the EU and the Russian investor Gazprom.”

The Minister of Infrastructure and Spatial Planning Samo Omerzel is convinced that the South Stream project is strategically significant for the EU and Slovenia. Therefore, Slovenia believes that its continued existence is not threatened by the latest negotiations between the Russian Gazprom and the Austrian OMV.

On the contrary, since Slovenia has fulfilled all the commitments in the bilateral agreement and fully supports cooperation on the project in order to diversify gas supplies, also in terms of the EU, and particularly due to accelerated spatial planning in Slovenia, we believe that we have a significant advantage in the South Stream project over Austria.
The Ministry of Infrastructure and Spatial planning, which is the responsible body in Slovenia for implementing the bilateral agreement on the South Stream, has not been officially informed of any change affecting the commitments made in the agreement. Regardless of this fact, we immediately asked representatives of the Russian Federation and the joint venture Plinovodi d.o.o. in Slovenia for further clarifications on the recent agreement between Gazprom and OMV. The established facts have strengthened our belief that the South Stream project is not under threat.
The South Stream project must be understood in the wider regional context. It is known that in order to realise the project, the Russian Federation has concluded bilateral agreements with all the countries in the region. Austria signed an agreement on the realisation of the South Stream project in 2010.  Since then, Austria has regularly cooperated with Slovenia in meetings with the European Commission. The same legislation applies to both Austria and Slovenia, as they are both EU members. In this respect, it should be understood that the realisation of the gas pipeline on Slovenian territory and its business performance is not connected to procedures required of the investor under energy legislation, as the legal framework is clear and is the same in all EU member states. Slovenia has fulfilled all the commitments from the bilateral agreement and has always clearly supported cooperation on the project. Marjan Eberlinc, the Director of Plinovodi d.o.o., said: “We are working as if nothing has happened. The South Stream project is continuing. According to the scheduled timeline, the gas pipeline should become operational in 2018.”
The infrastructure minister has commented on the latest developments as follows: “This Government has always treated the South Stream project as a priority, particularly in terms of the necessary spatial planning and approval of national spatial plans. The Slovenian side has met all the requirements of the Russian investor. I believe that our efforts will pay off in the end and that we will realise a major energy investment totalling 1 billion euros as an equal partner among five European countries in the planned schedule.”