Minister: Pipeline no longer a pipe dream

An agreement to build a long-planned oil pipeline between the Bulgarian Black Sea port of Burgas and the northern Greek port of Alexandroupolis and thus bypass the Bosporus will be signed before the end of the year, Deputy Development Minister Giorgos Salagoudis told reporters yesterday. Salagoudis said that Greece and Russia had already agreed and that Bulgaria’s agreement was forthcoming. Asked whether the agreement would be signed during Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis’s late-December visit to Russia, Salagoudis said it could be signed earlier than that. Kazakhstan has also shown interest in the oil pipeline. If finally signed, the agreement would provide a further boost to investment in energy. However, the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline does not have the importance it once had. Other investments now have priority. Salagoudis said that, by the end of the government’s four-year term, more than 2 billion euros will have been invested on energy, including 1.5 billion on renewable energy sources. The latter will mostly be wind power projects. Salagoudis acknowledged that local authorities often resisted proposals for building «wind parks» within their territory, but added that this often was due to a lack of specific, realistic plans on where to place the installations. He added that the Ministry of Environment and Public Works was preparing a project to provide proper planning for these installations and that this would boost private sector investment on alternative sources of power. Lignite will remain a major fuel source for industry and energy. Salagoudis, a chemist by profession, explained that new methods rendering lignite less polluting would be adopted and that new units would replace old ones.