Greeks in Russia for energy talks

Development Minister Christos Folias has been in Moscow since yesterday to pave the way for an official visit by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis next month and to revive the recently stagnated process for the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline. The agenda of the minister’s two-day visit includes meetings with his Russian counterpart and representatives of the country’s oil and natural gas industries and to discuss all issues related to the course of the construction of the oil pipeline and the transmission of natural gas from Russia to Western Europe through Greece. There are significant delays in the implementation of the construction of the oil pipeline linking the Bulgarian Black Sea port of Burgas with the Greek port of Alexandroupolis on the Aegean Sea. The delays are mostly attributed to the Russian side. The project gained momentum in the last few years when it secured the backing of the Russian government, as expressed by the presence of President Vladimir Putin in Athens for the signature ceremony of the three-party interstate agreement. However, there are now obstacles that have been created by the attitude of the Russian oil industry. Russian company representatives who participate in the project told their Greek and Bulgarian partners at their last meeting that they should secure their own oil supply corresponding to their percentage of ownership of the pipeline. The attitude of the Russians left the other two sides astounded and disappointed; they argue that this was not provided by the interstate agreement in which the three countries have been committed to the project on political level. Gas supply In Moscow, the Greek minister will also discuss the issue of extending the interstate agreement for the supply of natural gas from Russia to the Public Gas Corporation (DEPA). The agreement expires in 2016 and the two sides are discussing a possible extension until 2040, as well as an increase in annual quantities by about 80 percent. Discussions will also focus on the new pipelines for the transmission of natural gas from Russia to Western Europe, passing through Greece. Of particular interest for the Russian side is the new pipeline linking Turkey and Greece that is to be inaugurated by the two countries’ prime ministers on Sunday, November 18. The ceremony on the Evros River, on the Greek-Turkish border, will include the first transmission of natural gas from Turkey to Greece. The 285-kilometer pipeline forms part of the so-called horizontal axis for the supply of Europe with 11 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year from the rich reserves of the Caspian Sea. The pipeline links Karacabey in Turkey with Komotini in Greece.