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Bulgaria's Burgas to hold referendum on oil pipeline Feb 2008

Date: 23.12.2007

Burgas, Bulgaria's fourth-largest city, will hold a referendum asking its residents to vote in favour or against a planned oil pipeline passing through the municipality.

The city hall decided on Thursday to hold the referendum on February 17, allocating a total BGN 70 000 to that end.

To be acknowledged as valid, at least 51% of eligible voters in the Burgas municipality have to take part in it, but it remains unclear how its outcome can influence the plans to build the pipeline.

Bulgaria, Greece and Russia agreed to build the pipeline between Burgas and Alexandroupolis, taking Caspian oil to the Mediterranean skirting the congested Bosphorus, earlier this year after more than a decade of intermittent talks.

Municipalities neighbouring with Burgas are also harbouring fears that the pipeline could damage their lucrative tourism business, while environmental NGOs have branded the existing plans to build an oil terminal out at sea a disaster waiting to happen.

At the beginning of July, it emerged that residents from the Evros province in northeastern Greece would also plan to block the construction of the pipeline over concerns about the potential environmental risks.

The 280-kilometre pipeline, with 166 kilometres passing through Bulgaria, would have an initial annual capacity of 35 million tonnes, which could be later expanded to 50 million tonnes. Its costs are estimated at up to USD 900 M.

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