NEWS

Pipeline dream to become a reality

After some 13 years of discussions and repeated false starts, the governments of Greece, Russia and Bulgaria agreed yesterday to sign on Tuesday a multimillion-euro deal to build a pipeline for the channeling of oil from the Caspian Sea to the Aegean. Construction of the oil pipeline, which will take up to 10 years, from the Bulgarian port of Burgas on the Black Sea to Alexandroupoulis on Greece’s northern Aegean coast has been the subject of sporadic efforts from all three sides over the years. However, the Greek government seemed confident that all parties are ready to put their names to the deal in the Bulgarian capital Sofia next week. «It is an historic moment,» said Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas. The 285-kilometer-long Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline is expected to carry 35 million tons of oil per year when completed. Getting the pipeline up and running will cost over 500 million euros. The government has said that Greece will earn a steady income of about 30-35 million euros in fees from the operation of the pipeline, which is a key element of an aggressive energy policy outlined by Sioufas five months ago. Last November, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said the deal would enable Greece to become a «serious player» on the global energy map. This view was echoed yesterday by Sioufas. «It will play a part in the geostrategic upgrading of the whole area and our country, which is establishing itself as an energy hub,» he said.