Countering Russian President Vlamimir Putin's assertion this week that the $40 billion South Stream natural gas pipeline project was dead in the water, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker declared the project was very much alive and can go ahead.
Juncker made his statement after holding talks with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, whose country would ultimately benefit by being the first transit country for the gas on its way to central Europe. He further dismissed Russia's contention that EU competition rules relating to third party access (TPA) had killed the project. The problems affecting the continuation of the project are not "insurmountable," Juncker said.
EU willingness to proceed with South Stream comes on the heels of Moscow's decision to abandon the project in favor of a proposed alternative route for the pipeline to Turkey. This would complement Russia's existing Blue Stream pipeline running on the bottom of the Black Sea into Turkey.