Russia is ready to quit the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, a joint project with Bulgaria and Greece, and is likely to demand compensation from its partners, Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said on Friday.
"The current status of the project is that we have suspended almost all activities and are waiting for a final official decision by the Bulgarian government. We proceed from the fact that there are intergovernmental and corporate agreements. We'll act according to them, including leaving (the project)," Shmatko told RIA Novosti.
"It is obvious that if there is an official announcement that the project is not to be developed, mechanisms stipulated in both project and intergovernmental agreements will start working," he said.
Russian oil pipeline monopoly Transneft has said it had cut spending on the project to build a 300-kilometer pipeline, supposed to link the Black Sea port of Burgas to Alexandroupolis on the Aegean Sea, to a minimum. The 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 Bosphorus and the Dardanelles straits.
But Bulgaria has threatened to abandon the project over environmental risks. Around half of the pipeline was planned to run through Bulgarian territory.
Sofia had not made its financial contribution to the project, while Greece has also stopped payments. Bulgaria is to repay its 7.3 million euro debt on March 20.
Shmatko said that the Burgas-Alexandroupolis project was profitable.
"Both Russia and Greece are still showing their interest to Bulgaria," he said.
Russia will use alternative routes instead, he added.
"The projects we are developing on our territory, including the BTS-2, are a rather good and steady way to avoid transit risks and deliver to large ports," he said, referring to a pipeline leading to Baltic Sea ports.
MOSCOW, February 25 (RIA Novosti)