MILAN, October 19 (RIA Novosti) - Three Russian oil companies signed an agreement on Monday with Turkey's Calik Enerji and Italy's Eni on a pipeline project to pump Caspian oil to the Mediterranean via Turkey.
Turkey launched the $1.5-billion Samsun-Ceyhan project with the Italian energy giant in 2007, and has repeatedly invited Russia to join it.
The three Russian companies to participate are state-run Rosneft, oil pipeline monopoly Transneft, and shipping company Sovcomflot, one of the world's leading energy transporters.
According to Eni, the memorandum of understanding signed at the talks in Milan "envisages the commitment to discuss the definition of the economic and contractual conditions for Russian companies to participate" in the project.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, who chairs Rosneft, Italian Economic Development Minister Claudio Scajola, and Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz also signed a memo of understanding to set up a working group for the Samsun-Ceyhan project.
Sechin said Russia's largest independent oil producer LUKoil has also shown an interest in supplying oil via the pipeline.
"Other Russian companies, in particular LUKoil, are showing an interest in supplies. We are also holding talks with third countries," he said.
The Turkish energy minister said the project would improve mutual confidence among participants.
"The project will become part of an energy security system for many European countries, and not only for the countries involved in it," Yildiz said.
The pipeline's projected capacity will be 60-70 million tons of oil a year (1.2-1.4 million bbl/d).
The project is designed to reduce the oil transportation load on the Black Sea Strait of Bosporus and the Dardanelles on the Marmara Sea, which handles some 150 million tons (1.1 billion bbl) annually.