Greece seeks long-term gas deal with Russia

Deepening energy cooperation between Russia and Greece is expected to yield significant results soon in both the natural gas and oil sectors, ministers from the two governments said yesterday. Greece’s Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said the two sides were expecting to finalize an agreement shortly on the long-term extension of a contract to supply Russian natural gas to Greece. «We are on a good road. In the coming period we expect to have a text for an intergovernmental agreement,» Sioufas said. He was speaking after meeting with Russian Industry and Energy Minister Victor Khristenko, who later also met with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. In April, OAO Gazprom chief Alexei Miller and Sioufas said the two governments were aiming to finalize a deal by year’s end that would run to 2040. The current agreement lasts until 2016. The ministers also cited progress on a project to pipe Russian oil from Bulgaria to Greece. Both men signed in March an agreement providing for the construction of the 280-kilometer, -1 billion Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, designed to bypass the congested Bosporus Strait. The Greek Parliament and the lower house of the Russian parliament, the Duma, have ratified the pipeline agreement and the two countries have also defined the companies that will be participating. Bulgaria is expected to act very shortly, Sioufas said. In early June, participating companies from Bulgaria, Russia and Greece are expected to meet in Moscow to thrash out the details for constructing and using the pipeline, he said. The companies are to set up an international construction and management company for the project. Russia has majority control over the pipeline the first to be built in Europe in 40 years with OAO Rosneft, pipeline monopoly Transneft, and a subsidiary of state-controlled gas giant OAO Gazprom sharing a 51 percent stake. Greece and Bulgaria hold 24.5 percent apiece. Russia already supplies Greece with key oil and natural gas quantities. (AP)