Bulgaria Gets Crucial Environment Assessment of Oil PipelineEnergy | October 6, 2010, Wednesday // 13:57| views
"Don't turn Burgas into a second Chernobyl," reads a poster, carried by citizens of the coastal town, rallying against the construction of Burgas and Alexandroupolis oil pipeline. File photo
Bulgaria's environment ministry has received an environment assessment study of the planned Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline and is expected to rule on it in a month.
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.
In the summer this year 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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