ECONOMY

Russia lays out view of benefits of interdependence on energy networks

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis arrives in Moscow today for talks with President Vladimir Putin focusing on energy issues, particularly progress in the construction of the long-delayed Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, and Greece’s participation in the South Stream natural gas pipeline, which is a joint Russian-Italian initiative. In an interview with Kathimerini in Moscow, Russian Energy Minister Victor Khristenko, who has held the post for almost four years, said he is optimistic regarding the oil pipeline, despite the fact that nine months after the signing of the agreement between Russia, Greece and Bulgaria, implementation remains elusive. «To date, we have completed a vast amount of preparatory work… The agreement provides for the setting up of the International Project Company (IPC), which will own the pipeline and provide common guarantees regarding the distribution of the required oil quantities. The national coordinators for the setting up of IPC, including Greece’s, have been appointed. At the same time, experts are drafting the study with the technical and economic details of the project. «The planned top-level meetings have to speed up implementation… I believe there are no obstacles in principle to the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, as the project has a clear economic logic and responds to the long-term requirement of European countries for oil.» Khristenko said Russian energy giant Gazprom planned to complete by the end of 2008 market research and the feasibility study on the South Stream gas pipeline, with a view to piping the first quantities in 2013. «The prospects for using South Stream for the guaranteed regular supply of European countries with natural gas make it a highly desirable project for European energy security. Its construction costs will be lower than that of the Nabucco and will, therefore, not compete between them,» he said. Khristenko said Europe’s energy interests did not conflict with those of Russia. «The development of infrastructures for oil and gas contribute to the upgrading of global energy security. It must be understood that energy security is not achieved through some fictional energy independence but through the organization of a mutually beneficial partnership among suppliers, transporters and consumers of energy.»