SOFIA, April 17 Russia's South Stream pipeline project must not be blocked for political reasons and Bulgaria plans to start construction this year despite the crisis in the Ukraine, Bulgarian Energy Minister Dragomir Stoynev said on Thursday.
The European Union must consider the possible negative effects on member states if it blocks the project, Stoynev told a news conference in the capital Sofia.
The future of the 2,400-kilometre (1,490-mile) pipeline from Russia via the Black Sea to Europe, avoiding Ukraine, has been cast into doubt since Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region.
Bulgaria, almost entirely dependent on Russian energy supplies, would be a major beneficiary of the pipeline.
"South Stream is a long-term infrastructure project of strategic importance. Now they want to stop South Stream. How are we to develop? This crisis at the moment shows that we do not have security of natural gas supplies for Bulgaria," Stoynev told reporters.
(Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; editing by Matthias Williams and Jason Neely)