Russian oil pipeline monopoly 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 said on Friday.
"We are not giving up Burgas–Alexandroupolis. The project is interesting and approved by the European Union. We will not abandon the project, but in October or November we will freeze it and put it to sleep," said Barkov.
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. Around half of the pipeline was planned to run through Bulgarian territory.
Grigory Birg, an analyst from Investcafe, told RIA Novosti that the Transneft's statement did not mean that the project was frozen. Bulgaria did not fulfill its obligations under the contract and when the Balkan country implements its terms, the project will be re-started.
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 300-kilometer pipeline 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 Bosporus and the Dardanelles straits. Russia owns 51 percent in the project, Bulgaria and Greece equally share 49 percent.