Bulgarian Govt Stalls BA Pipeline Decision by 1 More Week

Energy | October 31, 2011, Monday // 16:15|  views

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Bulgaria's Environment Ministry has postponed by one addition week its final decision on the fate of the troubled Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project.

On Monday, October 31, the Ministry was supposed to make public its pronouncement on whether the environmental impact assessment met the eco requirements of the Bulgarian legislation.

However, it has made it clear that its experts need one more week to complete their evaluation of the document submitted to them by Trans-Balkan Pipeline, the Bulgarian-Greek-Russian company in charge of the pipe, reported Novinite.bg.

Trans-Balkan Pipeline BV, a Bulgarian-Greek-Russian government consortium, submitted the revised and supplemented ESIA (environmental and social impact assessement) report to the Ministry of Environment and Water of Bulgaria on September 30, 2011, within the term set by the Ministry

The EIA of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline project company had been rejected and returned for correction three times by the Bulgarian Environment Ministry over the recent months, casting ever greater doubts on the fate of the controversial oil pipeline initiative.

The newly submitted report by TBP is said to be of enormous volume, which, according the government sources, is taken to mean that the EIA has been thoroughly reworked.

If the Environment Ministry in Sofia approves the report, its word still will not be final since the report will then be referred for a public discussion, and will then be taken to the Supreme Expert Environmental Council, a body of government and NGO experts.

However, the project would be dead, if the Bulgarian Environment Ministry rules that the report is inadequate.

Last month, Russian oil pipeline monopoly Transneft said it will freeze the construction of the troubled Burgas-Alexandroupolis project, which has been largely obstructed by Bulgaria's government in the past 2 years.

Transneft will not abandon the Burgas–Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project - despite its partner Bulgaria's failure to provide financing - but will freeze the construction this fall, Transneft Vice President Mikhail Barkov declared.

The construction of the Trans-Balkan oil pipeline, designed to link the Black Sea port of Burgas to Alexandroupolis on the Aegean Sea, has long been hampered by the position of Bulgaria, which has threatened to abandon the project over environmental risks. Most of the pipeline was planned to run through Bulgarian territory.

Transneft has repeatedly complained that Bulgaria was failing to finance its part of the project. Media has said the project was likely to be suspended while Transneft only said it would minimize its spending on the pipeline.

The Russian "freeze" of the oil pipeline project came after in late August 2011 the Bulgarian government granted Trans-Balkan Pipeline an extension on the environmental assessment of Burgas-Alexandroupolis.

Bulgaria's Environment Ministry had given TBP until September 30, 2011, to submit anew its environment assessment impact study on the troubled oil pipeline project.

TBP had requested the extension in mid July, a government spokesperson said Monday.

The new delay on the final decision of the BA pipeline's fate came after in June 2011 Bulgarian Environment Minister Nona Karadzhova had declared that she gave Trans-Balkan Pipeline a final chance – a two-month extension – in order to fix the environmental impact flaws in its project.

Shortly after that the Bulgarian government approved a contribution to the Bulgarian state company for the construction of the vastly troubled pipeline, which was at the bare minimum for keeping alive operation of the company, which holds on behalf of Bulgaria a share of 24.5% in the Trans-Balkan Pipeline company, a joint venture of Bulgaria, Greece, and Russia.

In June 2011, the Bulgarian government delayed further the controversial project for the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, returning its environmental assessment report for the second time to the Trans-Balkan Pipeline company, prompting Transneft President Nikolai Tokarev to describe the actions of the Bulgarian government as an insult.

The 300-km pipeline, planned to link the Black Sea port of Burgas to Alexandroupolis on the Aegean Sea, is designed to transport 35 million tons of oil a year, with a possible expansion to 50 million tons, to ease the tanker traffic burden in the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles straits.

Transneft does not rule out finding a route bypassing Bulgaria to deliver Russian oil through Greece to the Mediterranean, Tokarev said.

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Tags: Vladislav Emelyanov, TBP, Pomorie. Burgas-Alexandroupolis, Burgas, Russia, Traicho Traikov, Sergey Shmatko, Sergei Shmatko, environmental assessment, greece, Russia, Enviroment Ministry, Nona Karadzhova, Environment Minister, Trans-Balkan Pipeline, TBP, oil pipeline, Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, Mikhail Barkov, EIA, environmental impact assessment


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