Russia and Greece hope to settle pipeline negotiations by the end of this year

The prime ministers of Greece and Russia said in Athens yesterday they hoped to have details of a proposed pipeline project to transport Russian oil to Greece worked out by the end of the year. The Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline would bypass Turkey’s busy Bosporus strait, spanning 280 kilometers (175 miles) across Bulgaria and Greece. Funding disputes and competing pipeline proposals have held up the estimated 1-billion-euro project. Negotiations were reinvigorated following a September 4 visit to Athens by Russian President Vladimir Putin. «This is an important venture for the countries involved and for the energy security of European countries,» said Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, who signed agreements for tourism cooperation and to settle debts mostly dating from the Soviet Union, estimated at 12 million euros. «This (pipeline) project is of the highest importance… We are keen to move ahead to the construction phase,» said Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. He also said the two countries already were working on the terms of a renewed supply agreement for natural gas that ends in 2016. (AP)