Greece, Bulgaria, Russia agreement for pipeline

Representatives from Greece, Russia and Bulgaria on Wednesday took yet another step towards finalising a long-expected agreement to construct and operate an oil pipeline linking the western Black Sea coast with the northeastern Aegean — a route bypassing the increasingly congested Bosporus straits.
The Greek side was represented by development ministry general-secretary Nikos Stefanou, who initialled the draft agreement in the eponymous Black Sea port of Burgas from where the pipeline will begin before running overland and concluding at the NE Greek port of Alexandroupoli.

“This is a historic moment and a national success … Results are absolutely positive,” Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said from Athens, after he briefed Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on the development.

The Greek minister added that the final tripartite agreement will be signed in Athens early next month, while an exact date remains to be finalised via diplomatic channels.

In other statements, Sioufas lauded the project’s significance for international energy supply networks, for Greece and Bulgaria, as well as regional development as a whole.

Additionally, he praised all the governments since 1993 for their contribution in promoting the project, including current Greek President Karolos Papoulias (who was the foreign minister in 1994) and Latsis group executive Nikos Grigoriadis, who first outlined the idea of such a pipeline.

Finally, the Greek minister listed a handful of projects aimed at transforming the country into a regional energy hub: construction of a Turkey-Greece Nat gas pipeline; the establishment of a SE Europe energy community; an agreement with Rome for the construction of an underwater extension of the natural gas pipeline, and finally, Burgas-Alexandroupoli.

Greece, Bulgaria and Russia have already signed a series of lesser political agreements for the cross-border pipeline, with the last one in September 2006. At the time the project was budgeted at approximately 700 million euros. The 285-kilometre pipeline will carry Russian oil from Burgas in Bulgaria to Alexandroupoli in northern Greece and has an estimated investment cost of 750-800 million US dollars with an annual capacity of 35 million tons of oil initially.

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