* Plans ditched over fears of Russian interest -papers
SOFIA, Feb 23 - Bulgaria has ditched plans to float part of its gas network operator on the market, an energy minister said on Tuesday, which media reports said was to prevent Russia gaining more influence over the Balkan country's gas supply.
The listing of Bulgartransgaz was part of the new centre-right government's plan to float about 15 percent in major state energy companies this year. [ID:nLA656239]
Economy and Energy Minister Traicho Traikov told reporters the cabinet has reconsidered Bulgartansgaz's listing. He said the floating of other minority stakes in energy companies would be carried out as planned but did not give a timeline.
We have decided that at this stage a full state control of the company is more important, Traikov said on the sidelines of an energy forum.
Bulgarian media reports said the decision was sparked by concerns that Russian energy companies could buy into the Bulgarian gas operator, increasing the country's reliance on its former Soviet master. Bulgaria gets almost all of its gas and oil from Russia.
Bulgaria's new government is eager to prove its pro-European and pro-American orientation, and last year launched a review of its participation in several major Russian-backed energy projects.
The cabinet has since given a green light to South Stream, though many details are yet to be agreed.
Sofia also agreed last week to take a Russian loan of about 1.9 billion euros to continue work on a new nuclear power plant with Russian-designed reactors. [ID:nLDE61I14M] (Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Louise Heavens)