ECONOMY

In Brief

Greece, Italy to explore reverse gas flow Greece and Italy agreed to study the feasibility of upgrading a planned undersea pipeline to send natural gas in both directions. The agreement followed meetings between Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis, Italian Economic Development Minister Claudio Scajola and executives from Milan-based Edison SpA, according to a statement from Greece’s Development Ministry. Hatzidakis was in Milan to attend a conference. «The project would increase the potential of the Interconnector Greece-Italy and strengthen the energy security of Greece,» Hatzidakis said in an interview. He added he expected the results of the study by the end of the year. Last year, Edison and Greek gas monopoly DEPA agreed to set up a company to build and operate the Neptune pipeline, bringing gas from the Caspian Sea region to Italy through Greece and Turkey. The partners will now look at the technical aspects of having gas flow from Italy to Greece as well, according to the statement. (Bloomberg) Oresharski admits budget cuts needed SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria’s outgoing Finance Minister Plamen Oresharski acknowledged yesterday that budget cuts were needed to keep the economy from slipping into deficit this year and putting the country’s financial stability at risk. Economists have warned that a spending spree by Bulgaria’s outgoing Socialist-led cabinet before July 5 general elections risked sending the Balkan country to a deficit after years of surpluses that could put pressure on its currency peg. Oresharski and his government, hit by plunging support over economic hardship and rampant corruption, have so far repeatedly downplayed the risk and refused to sharply reduce spending. But Finance Ministry data showed yesterday that the budget surplus plummeted to 173 million levs ($125.3 million) at end-June, or 0.3 percent of GDP, compared with a surplus of 3.78 billion levs a year ago. Petrol Ofisi ban Petrol Ofisi, Turkey’s biggest fuel retailer, said yesterday a court had suspended a government ban on the company bidding for state contracts. A court in the capital Ankara on Friday suspended the implementation of the one-year ban, which was imposed in April, during Petrol Ofisi’s legal appeal against the Energy Ministry, the company said in a filing. The government had barred Petrol Ofisi from participating in tenders to distribute fuel to power plants and other state-run businesses because its products had higher-than-agreed levels of sulfur, which Petrol Ofisi denied. «It’s a positive development, but we need to look at what tenders Petrol Ofisi has missed and which are left for it to enter,» said Selim Kunter, an equity analyst at Ekspres Invest in Istanbul. (Reuters) Turk Telekom H1 Fixed-line operator Turk Telekom yesterday reported that its first-half net profits reached 820 millon lira ($541 mln), its first-half sales 5.15 billion lira and its second-quarter net profits 530 million lira. According to the average forecast in a Reuters poll of 11 analysts, second-quarter net profits were seen up 1.2 percent on the year to 635 million lira and sales up 3.9 percent to 2.65 billion lira. (Reuters)