Bulgaria says pipeline should be delayed no longer The recent steep rise in the price of oil has made the proposed pipeline between the Bulgarian city of Burgas on the Black Sea and the Greek city of Alexandroupolis on the Aegean economically viable and there should be no further delays in its construction, Bulgaria’s Economy and Energy Minister Rumen Ovcarov said yesterday. «I believe we have no right to lose any more time, especially in the light of Russia’s commitment to support the project,» he said in an interview with the daily Trud. Ovcarov said the rival scheme of a pipeline connecting Burgas with the Albanian port of Vlore, in which there is strong American investment interest, looked less attractive. «US interest in the transportation of oil resources in the Middle East and in Europe is self-evident but there is no specific commitment at this phase,» Ovcarov said. Albania, Bulgaria, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia signed a memorandum of understanding on the Burgas-Vlore project in Sofia last December. Russia, Greece and Bulgaria have reached political agreement on construction of the pipeline and deliberations are now in the technical stage. Piraeus Bank sets sights on expanding in Egypt Egyptian Commercial Bank, a subsidiary of Piraeus Bank, plans to expand its branch network to 40 in the North African country by the end of 2006 along with an entry into retail banking, Gamal Maharan, CEO of the bank, to be renamed Piraeus Bank from the new year, said. The parent bank’s international activities general director, Yiannis Kyriakopoulos, said the goal is to raise the contribution of foreign subsidiaries to overall profits to 25 percent within two years from 15 percent today. Emphasis will be placed on presence in the US through Marathon Bank, the sole Greek-owned bank in America after Atlantic Bank’s recent sale by the National Bank of Greece. Top Tankers Nasdaq-listed Top Tankers Inc has announced it has taken delivery of M/T Stormless, a 150,038 DWT double-hull Suezmax tanker, built in 1993 by Japan’s Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co. M/T Stormless is the first of four Suezmax deliveries expected in the fourth quarter of 2005 and will be deployed in the spot market. Upon delivery of three Suezmax tankers and one Handymax tanker, the company expects to operate a fleet of 27 tankers. Battery recall Hewlett-Packard Hellas is recalling laptop computer batteries used in Hewlett-Packard and Compaq models sold worldwide between March and September 2004. Some batteries could overheat, possibly causing burns or even a fire, the General Secretariat for Consumers said yesterday. European actuaries A Greek, Costas Koutsopoulos, is the new president of the Groupe Consultatif Actuariel Européen, the continent’s federation of actuaries’ associations. Koutsopoulos has been a founding member and the chairman of the Association of Greek Actuaries.