Russia, Bulgaria and Greece signed a long-delayed deal March 15 to build a pipeline across their territories to pump Russian oil further on to Europe.
The 280-kilometer (175-mile) Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline will carry Russian oil via the Bulgarian Black Sea port of Burgas and Greece's Alexandroupolis on the Aegean to Europe, the U.S. and the Asia-Pacific region.
Following the ratification of the agreement, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said the pipeline could be commissioned at the end of 2010 or the beginning of 2011.
"We make such assumptions that if the process of forming the international consortium, research and international agreements on oil transit are completed within a year and a half, then the actual construction of the pipeline will start by the end of 2008," the minister said. "In late 2010 or early 2011 the pipeline can be put into operation."
The pipeline will pump 35 million metric tons of oil a year (257.25 million bbl), a volume that could eventually be increased to 50 million metric tons (367.5 million bbl).
Russia's state-controlled oil producer Rosneft [RTS: ROSN], state pipeline operator Transneft, and energy giant Gazprom [RTS: GAZP] will hold a total of 51% in the project, while Greece and Bulgaria will control 24.5% each.