Major companies from Greece, Bulgaria and Russia convened yesterday in Moscow for the first time, testing the waters ahead of their joint funding of the oil pipeline to link the Bulgarian Black Sea port of Burgas with the Greek port of Alexandroupolis. In what is seen as the first crucial step promoting the pipeline’s construction after the signing of the political memorandum last year by the three governments, representatives of Hellenic Petroleum, the Latsis Group and the Thraki SA consortium of Dimitris Kopelouzos from Greece met with Bulgarian and Russian firms in the start of a long process. The Bulgarian side is represented by two firms, Universal Terminal Burgas AD and Bulgargas. They recently set up a consortium owning stakes of 75 percent and 25 percent respectively, named Projektna Kompania Neftoprovod Burgas-Alexandroupolis – BG AD, to take part in the pipeline’s construction. The Russian side was represented by TKN-BP, Gazprom and Gazprom-Neft. Yesterday’s meeting focused on the purely financial aspect of the project, which is vital for the pipeline’s realization. Regarding the thorny issue of the share every side will have in the project, sources suggested that discussion was conducted on the basis of 33.3 percent for each side. No one disputes Russia’s interest in the pipeline’s construction, and its share could actually rise once the creation of the three-state consortium is complete by acquiring some of the other partners’ share. The next meeting of the group of companies is expected to take place Sofia in 10 days.