Greece mulling contracts for Russian gas post-2012 - ministry

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SOCHI, September 26 (RIA Novosti) - Greece is interested in signing long-term contracts on Russian supplies of natural gas after 2012, a senior official of the Russian Industry and Energy Ministry said Tuesday.

Russia supplied 1.4 billion cubic meters of gas to Greece in January-July 2006 and 2.4 billion cu m in 2005.

Anatoly Yanovsky, head of the ministry's department for the fuel and energy complex, also said the ministry hoped that an intergovernmental agreement on the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline would be signed by the end of 2006.

The leaders of Russia, Bulgaria and Greece adopted in Athens September 4 a joint declaration on energy cooperation under which they agreed to sign an intergovernmental deal on the construction of an oil pipeline in the Balkans by the end of 2006.

"The presidents have set a task and I hope it will be accomplished by the end of the year," Yanovsky said.

The $1-billion project, which will run 280 kilometers (175 miles) from the Bulgarian Black Sea port of Burgas to Greece's Alexandroupolis, on the Aegean, will allow Russia to export oil through the Black Sea, bypassing the often crowded Bosporus Strait in Turkey.

The Russian, Bulgarian and Greek governments signed a memorandum on the pipeline's construction in April 2005.

Russian energy giant Gazprom said in mid-September it was considering building a second branch of its Blue Stream natural gas pipeline southward to transit gas through Turkey toward Greece, Italy and, possibly, Israel.

The Blue Stream pipeline is the largest Russian-Turkish joint energy project to date, which carries Russian natural gas to Turkey. The $3.2 billion pipeline transported 5 billion cubic meters of natural gas in 2005, and is expected to carry 16 billion cubic meters annually by 2010.

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