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Russia and Greece are reviving the Bourgas-Alexandroupolis project

03 January 2016 / 15:01:32  GRReporter
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The crisis in the Russian-Turkish relations might lead to a freezing of the Turkish Stream pipeline, which the two countries wanted to build, and a resuscitation of the Bourgas-Alexandroupolis project. Under Moscow's initiative, the revival is already in the pipeline, as the project will bypass the Turkish Straits. The Russian side has already forwarded a proposal to Greece and Bulgaria, according to diplomatic sources.

Sofia apparently wants to obtain the consent of Washington, according to the same sources. The US are cautious at the moment – and neither oppose, nor back the plans. Bourgas-Alexandroupolis is one of Russia's pieces on the chessboard of energy plans and directly relates to other pipeline initiatives or projects that are underway in the wider region. This is what economic observers argue in their expectation of further details, which will make it clear how far the initiative could go.

The Greek side

In recent statements, the Minister of Environment and Energy, Panos Skourletis said: "The impression I got from my visit to Russia was that the Russians genuinely want to seek alternative routes through Bulgaria."

The Bourgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline was to be trans-Balkan and carry fuel from the Bulgarian port of Bourgas on the Black Sea to Alexandroupolis. Greece, Russia and Bulgaria signed the construction agreement in Athens on 17 March 2007. The 280 km pipe was supposed to be completed in 2010.

The idea goes further back: it was first put on the table 12 years ago, in April 2005 – in Sofia. on 4 September, a summit was held in Athens between presidents Vladimir Putin and Georgi Parvanov, and Greece's current Prime Minister Konstantinos Karamanlis. Thereupon, an agreement was drafted and signed.

But on 11 June, 2010, Sofia announced it was withdrawing from the project and raised objections to the quality of the environmental assessment report. The project suspension was postponed when on 5 November, 2011, the Bulgarian ministry of environment gave positive feedback on the new environmental study of the area around the Bourgas port. But just a month later, the Bulgarian government officially confirmed the country's withdrawal from the project.

The overall length of the pipe should have been about 280 km, out of which 135 km ran on Greek and 145 km - on Bulgarian territory. The project involved a terminal at the port of Alexandroupolis, complete with infrastructure for hydrocarbon loading platforms. Similar infrastructure was planned for the Bourgas port. Just like the Trans-Adriatic oil pipeline, or the Bulgarian-Greek natural gas interconnector, or the pipeline Cyprus-Crete-Greece, Bourgas-Alexadroupolis could lead to a new strategic role of Greece in the international energy sector.

However, this will depend not only on financial factors, but also on the international geopolitical relations. And the latter will either greenlight or check Russian interests in this project.

Tags: oil pipeline Bourgas-Alexandroupolis revival Bulgaria Greece Russia
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