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Oct 09, 2009 18:37 EEST
October 9 (SeeNews) - The Trans Balkan Pipeline (TBP) project company that will build the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline hopes to get an environmental go-ahead, the major stumbling block for the long-delayed project, next spring, Bulgaria's Energy Minister Traycho Traykov said on Friday.
The pipeline, designed to carry Russian oil to Europe via Bulgaria and Greece, has been raising concerns about its impact on the environment.
The project's environmental assessment is expected to be completed by the end of the year, after which it will be opened for public discussion, Traykov told reporters after a meeting with representatives of the company.
"For the time being I do not see particular reasons for not going on [with the project]," Traykov said and added that, according to TBP, there have been no cases of harming the environment among 1,000 similar installations.
The centre-right government of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, which took office after the July 5 general elections, said it will revise all major energy deals signed by the previous tripartite coalition government of Premier Sergei Stanishev, including the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, the South Stream gas pipeline and the Belene nuclear power plant.
The financial closure of the project, which is estimated to cost some 1.5-1.6 billion euro ($2.2-$2.4 billion), will be completed next year when the builder will also be picked. Construction works should begin in 2011 and the pipeline is expected to come on stream in 2013, Traykov said.
The 258-kilometre pipeline will link the Bulgarian Black Sea port of Burgas with the Greek Aegean port of Alexandroupolis and will carry Russian and Kazakh crude oil delivered by oil tankers to Burgas. It will be able to transport 35 million tonnes of crude a year upon completion and its capacity can be raised to 50 million tonnes at a later stage.
Russian state-controlled oil producer Rosneft and Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of gas export monopoly Gazprom, will jointly provide 18 million tonnes of oil a year, and Kazakhstan, through a Caspian oil pipeline consortium, will supply 17 million tonnes, local daily Trud reported earlier this year.
Russia holds a 51% stake in TBP through its oil producer Rosneft, crude oil pipeline monopoly Transneft and Gazprom Neft, the oil unit of gas export monopoly Gazprom. Greece and Bulgaria share the rest equally.
The Burgas-Alexandroupolis route could compete with another major oil pipeline project in southeastern Europe, the Albania-Macedonia-Bulgaria Oil Pipeline (AMBO), which is designed to transport Caspian and Russian crude oil via Bulgaria and Macedonia to Albania's Ionian coast and then further west to northern Europe and the U.S. East Coast.
($ = 0.678 euro)
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