ECONOMY

Bulgaria wants out of pipeline deal

Bulgaria was sending mixed messages yesterday regarding the future construction of a key pipeline designed to carry Russian oil through Bulgaria to Greece, raising clouds of doubt over what is to be a major energy project for the region. Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said yesterday that he had informed European Union ambassadors that Bulgaria would scrap the project due to resistance from residents of the Black Sea town of Burgas – where the pipeline was due to start. Borisov also voiced concern about the project’s possible environmental impact, saying, «We all saw what is happening in the Gulf of Mexico,» in reference to the disastrous oil spill off the US coast. The proposed 282-kilometer pipeline was to bring Russian oil from Burgas to Alexandroupoli in northeastern Greece, bypassing the environmentally vulnerable Bosporus Strait. Nevertheless, speaking on national radio, Economy and Energy Minister Traicho Traikov insisted that no official decision had been taken to scrap the project. «I do not believe that the premier said that. We have not taken a decision to drop the project,» Traikov said. The Bulgarian government press office confirmed in a statement that the government «has not for the time being undertaken any official action for ending its participation» in the pipeline project. Responding to news from its northern neighbor, Greek government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis said yesterday that Greece remains focused on the completion of the pipeline deal and will continue with efforts in this direction.