The Bulgarian Ministry of Environment and Water published the approval of the investment proposal for the South Stream Offshore Pipeline.
This follows the Supreme Expert Environmental Council’s positive decision on the Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIA Report) of the South Stream Offshore Pipeline in Bulgaria, taken on 24 January 2014. The EIA Report concludes that the environment will not be significantly affected by the Project.
“We take our environmental and social responsibility very seriously and we undertook a thorough impact assessment to ensure the pipeline will not harm the environment. The EIA Report reflects this clearly and I am pleased that our efforts were appreciated by the experts of the Supreme Expert Environmental Council”, commented Oleg Aksyutin, CEO of South Stream Transport B.V.
The EIA Report contains the findings of the environmental, cultural heritage and socio-economic studies for the construction and operation of the Bulgarian Sector of the South Stream Offshore Pipeline, conducted by a team of Bulgarian and international experts. The report describes the potential impact of the Project and contains over 200 protection measures that South Stream Transport will implement to ensure that the Project will not have any significant adverse impacts.
Feedback from the community considered
During the development of the EIA, South Stream Transport held two rounds of consultation meetings. In February 2013, consultations were held to discuss the scope and preliminary results of the environmental impact assessment. The feedback gathered during these meetings, along with feedback from ongoing consultation with stakeholders during 2013, was considered in the development of the EIA Report and led to a decision to use an alternative construction method to cross under Pasha Dere Beach near Varna. Rather than burying the pipeline under the beach, four micro-tunnels will be used to install the pipelines deep underground. The tunnels will pass approximately 20 metres below the beach, without any construction or digging works taking place on the shoreline, and ensuring that public access to the beach will be maintained.
A second round of consultations was held in December 2013, when public hearings were held on the EIA Report in Varna and Priseltsi (Avren). Questions and comments received during this period were documented, and responses were provided to the Ministry of Environment and Water and the relevant local municipalities. This feedback will also be considered in the ongoing design and implementation of the South Stream Offshore Pipeline.
Following the positive decision of the Bulgarian Ministry of Environment and Water, South Stream Transport is seeking to complete the next stages of permitting to receive all the required construction permits in time to start construction in the middle of 2014.
Press Release, February 10, 2014; Image: south-stream-offshore