Sofia Unaware of Moscow Wed Meeting over Oil Pipeline

Energy | September 8, 2010, Wednesday // 10:17|  views

Bulgaria's Finance Minister Simeon Djankov. Photo by Sofia Photo Agency

Bulgaria's finance ministry has denied their representatives are expected in Moscow on September 8 for talks on the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline.

“The economic plan for the construction of the pipeline will be presented in Moscow on Wednesday,” a representative of the project company Trans-Balkan Pipeline (TBP) told Dnevnik daily over the phone.

Asked for comment, representatives of the finance ministry, which is in charge of the project, said they know nothing about the negotiations in Moscow and will duly inform the media if “something happens”.

Construction of the line has been on ice even after Bulgaria's government balked at the potential environmental damage that the pipeline could inflict on its resort-dotted coastline. The cabinet has stated that its final decision on the country's participation in the project will depend on its upcoming international environmental assessment.

Two months ago Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borisov unexpectedly said that his country was “giving up” on Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project.

In a dramatic twist that left all of Europe confused, Borisov retracted his statements shortly afterwards, saying that the Bulgarian government hasn’t made a final decision regarding the construction of the pipeline.

After it took office in July 2009, Bulgaria's new center-right government of the GERB party made it clear it was going to reconsider the country's participation in the three large-scale energy projects - South Stream gas pipeline, Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, and Belene Nuclear Power Plant.

Three Bulgarian Black Sea municipalities - Burgas, Pomorie, and Sozopol - have voted against the pipe in local referendums over environmental concerns.

Municipalities neighboring Pomorie and nearby Burgas are also harboring fears that the pipeline could damage their lucrative tourism business, while environmental NGOs have branded the existing plans to build an oil terminal out at sea a disaster waiting to happen.

Bulgaria, Greece and Russia agreed to build the pipeline between Burgas and Alexandroupolis, taking Caspian oil to the Mediterranean skirting the congested Bosphorus, in 2007 after more than a decade of intermittent talks.

The agreement for the company which will construct the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil transit pipeline was signed by Bulgaria during Russian President Putin's visit to Bulgaria in 2008.

The 280-kilometer pipeline, with 166 kilometers passing through Bulgaria, would have an initial annual capacity of 35 million tonnes, which could be later expanded to 50 million tonnes. Its costs are estimated at up to USD 900 M.

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Tags: Bulgarian, Bulgaria, Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, Boyko Borisov, greece, Russia, George Papandreou, Simeon Djankov, Trans-Balkan Pipeline (TBP)

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