ECONOMY

Greek-Bulgarian pipeline on schedule

Construction of a trans-Balkan pipeline to transport Russian crude oil from Bulgaria to Greece will be complete by 2012, in line with original plans, according to Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis. «The program is continuing smoothly and up until now there have been no delays,» said the minister after meeting with senior officials from Trans Balkan Pipeline that will build and operate the pipeline. Late last year the chief executive of Trans Balkan Pipeline, Alexander Tarakanov, was cited in the press as saying that commencement of work on the $900 million project could be delayed. Greece, Bulgaria and Russia have signed a deal on building the Burgas-to-Alexandroupolis pipeline, which aims to bypass the traffic-clogged Turkish Bosporus Strait. According to industry officials, the global crisis and falling oil prices may prompt a rethink of major oil projects due to changing economic fundamentals. «This crisis will not last forever. It will complete its cycle,» added the minister. Construction of the project had previously been set to start in late 2008 or early 2009. Technical studies, including the project’s possible impact on the environment, need to be completed before the company finalizes finance details with banks, according to Hatzidakis.