Lower gas prices and a more dependable supply are expected to translate into a more economically prosperous Macedonia, which will more readily be able to tackle Euro-Atlantic integration.
By Miki Trajkovski for Southeast European Times in Skopje -- 09/08/13
Construction of the South Stream pipeline was launched in Anapa in December 2012. [AFP]
Access to high-quality natural gas will ensure lower costs and increase the competitiveness of Macedonian industry and the economy, experts said, following the signing of an agreement last month for Macedonia to join the South Stream pipeline project.
"This is an extraordinarily important project for us. With South Stream, the long-term energy stability of the Republic of Macedonia is practically guaranteed and new quantities of gas are secured," Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski said.
Macedonia will be connected to South Stream with a special arm from the Serbian or Bulgarian South Stream pipeline network.
Dependable access to inexpensive, high-quality gas will translate into a more economically prosperous Macedonia, which will more readily tackle Euro-Atlantic integration.
The existing gas network is little used because it delivers costly gas, according to Branko Azeski, president of the Economic Chamber of Macedonia, and so South Stream brings a new, positive impetus for the Macedonian economy.
"With [South Stream], we will have a low gas price, to be agreed among all the countries that will use South Stream gas, which will be affordable. That will increase the competitiveness of the Macedonian economy because companies will adjust to using gas instead of other fuels," Azeski told SETimes.
Using high-quality natural gas will permit greater competitiveness of Macedonian products in foreign markets, according to Konstantin Dimitrov, president of the Macedonian Centre for Energy Efficiency.
"This will be very positive for the Macedonian economy because natural gas, compared to coal and liquid fuels, provides greater efficiency," Dimitrov told SETimes.
Macedonia has a single gas pipeline of its own which can satisfy the country's needs for five years but was used by few.
"Even though the gasification in Macedonia started a long time ago, in reality, the benefits of using natural gas, which is considered cheaper than other fuels, have not been felt yet. One of the reasons is that we had few customers and very expensive gas," Nikolajco Nikolaev, deputy general director of the Buchim mine, said.
Officials said the pipeline will be completed by 2018, when the first quantities of gas are expected to flow to central and southern Europe.
The construction of South Stream started in December of 2012 and includes a 3,600 kilometre-long pipeline under the Black Sea.
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