Oil pipeline comes a step closer

Concrete steps toward implementing the oil pipeline project to link the Bulgarian port of Burgas with the Greek one of Alexandroupolis were taken this week at the meeting of the Greek, Russian and Bulgarian representations in Moscow. Greece’s Deputy Minister for Development Giorgos Salagoudis announced yesterday in Moscow the establishment of an Initiative Group of companies led by British Petroleum’s Russian consortium, TNK-BP, with the participation of Hellenic Petroleum, the Latsis Group consortium, Prometheus Gas from Greece, and PIK TISE and Stroitransgaz from Russia. In addition, four Russian energy giants expressed an interest and attended the meeting as observers: Lukoil, Gazprom, Rosneft and Transneft. «We believe there will be greater expansion, so that as many oil companies as possible will participate in the international company to undertake the construction and operation of the pipeline,» said Salagoudis. He also announced that a new meeting in Moscow has been scheduled for March 9 and 10, for the three governments to review the progress made by the initiative group ahead of signing the intergovernmental memorandum on March 15 in Sofia. The signing of the agreement has been delayed as the Russian side had asked for a postponement after the initialing of a cooperation memorandum for the project last November. Salagoudis explained the project’s feasibility study envisions two scenarios: «The first envisages a pipeline with a capacity of 35 million tons of oil per year, and the second of up to 50 million tons annually,» he said. The cost of the 300-kilometer-long project is estimated at 700 million euros. This comes a month after the agreement by the Sofia, Skopje and Tirana governments to construct another pipeline from Burgas, ending at the Albanian port of Vlore. Greek Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas had then questioned the economic feasibility of this project.