Oil pipeline seen adding new dimension to region

Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said yesterday the construction of the oil pipeline from the Bulgarian port of Burgas on the Black Sea to Alexandroupoulis on Greece’s northern Aegean coast, for which a memorandum was initialed by Greece, Bulgaria and Russia on Friday, is «a most significant development.» «Greece is becoming a serious player in the global energy map, as the pipeline will serve the transportation of oil from Russia and Central Asia to Europe and the US markets,» he said. He also noted that the partnership of the three countries in the scheme will have multiple effects on their broader economic and trade cooperation, thus bolstering «the common goal of regional development and geostrategic collaboration.» Implementation of the scheme, which now seems to be getting under way after serious delays in the last 10 years, will involve projects worth 354 million euros (at 2001 prices), of which 125 million will concern the Alexandroupolis terminal. Roussopoulos said Greece will earn a steady income of about 30-35 million euros in fees from the operation of the pipeline. Separately, Bulgarian Regional Development Minister Valentin Cerovski was quoted as saying the memorandum of cooperation between the three countries will be signed at senior level in Sofia next month. Tender to come According to Cerovski, the companies that will participate in the consortium for construction of the pipeline and those that subsequently operate it will be selected through an international tender. He added that Sofia had resisted Russian pressure for Russian companies to be given contracts in the construction of Bulgaria’s new atomic power station at Belene for Moscow to give its consent to the pipeline. «The Bulgarian government was unwavering and refused to give such guarantees,» Cerovski was quoted as saying. Mehmet Bilgic, head of BOTAS, Turkey’s public natural gas company, yesterday informed his counterpart at Greece’s Public Gas Corporation (DEPA), Rafail Moysis, that his country will complete the selection process of the company that will construct the Turkish segment of the planned gas pipeline linking the two countries by the end of January 2005. The 285-kilometer (177-mile) pipeline, which will run from Karacabey on the southern coast of the Sea of Marmara to Komotini in Thrace, will have a diameter of 91 centimeters (36 inches). It is the basic segment of a network planned to bring Caspian gas to Western Europe, and is projected to be operational at the end of 2006 under a commercial agreement between BOTAS and DEPA. Greece has already selected the contractor for the shorter Greek segment of the pipeline, which will run for about 80km, from the border to Komotini.