Trans-Balkan oil pipeline deal gets Bulgarian nod

SOFIA (Reuters) – The Bulgarian parliament yesterday approved an agreement between Russia, Greece and Bulgaria for the construction of a 950-million-euro ($1.28 billion) trans-Balkan oil pipeline. Some 109 deputies from the 240-member chamber voted in support of the agreement and 19 were against. Russia, Bulgaria and Greece agreed in March to launch the construction of a 279-kilometer (173-mile) oil pipeline to carry Urals oil from Bulgaria’s Black Sea port of Burgas to Alexandroupolis on the Aegean, bypassing the congested Bosporous Strait. The three countries are in talks to set up a company to own and operate the pipeline. Once launched the construction is expected to take around 18 months. Russian oil producer Rosneft and Gazprom Neft and crude oil pipeline monopoly Transneft will hold 51 percent in the project, while Greece and Bulgaria will have 24.5 percent each. Bulgaria’s stake will be managed by state firms Bulgargaz and Transexportstroy. The Greek firms are Hellenic Petroleum, Latsis Group and the Greek unit of Gazprom, Petroleum Gas. Bulgaria has said it might sell its entire stake or part of it. Kazakhstan had said last month it wants to buy a stake in the pipeline within the 49 percent share of Bulgaria and Greece, but the exact figure was subject to discussions.