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Russians Blame Delay of Oil Pipeline on Bulgarian Debt

Date: 07.04.2010

Bulgaria has failed to pay its share for the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, which has affected the project, according to a senior Transneft official.

According to Mikhail Barkov, Vice President of Transneft, one of the Russian companies taking part in the Burgas-Alexandroupolis project, Bulgaria is about a year late with paying its dues to its joint project with Russia and Greece.

“We are disappointed by the fact that the Bulgarian shareholders have been abstaining for more than a year from paying their share for the funding of the joint company which is practically blocking the making of the necessary corporate decisions,” Barkov is quoted as saying by Russian oil portal

The Bulgarian state and Greece each have a stake of 24,5% in the Trans-Balkan Pipeline company which is to build the pipe, whereas Russia has a stake of 51%. The Bulgarian government, which has made the realization of the oil pipeline project conditional on an upcoming environmental assessment of its impact on the Gulf of Burgas, has recently placed its share under the direct responsibility of Finance Minister Simeon Djankov.

The Russian oil news website points out that Bulgaria has taken a long time to determine an institution to coordinate and manage the project on its own part.

“It has been announced recently that the Finance Ministry was placed in charged but we have not received any formal notification as is required,” Transneft VP Barkov said while expressing his hopes that the Bulgarian side is soon going to become more constructive and put its weight behind the project.

The Bulgarian stake of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline was initially divided between the state-owned companies Bulgargaz and Technoexportstroy, and was later transferred in full to Technoexportstroy.

Bulgaria owes EUR 4,69 M for 2009 to the joint venture, Trans-Balkan Pipeline, and EUR 1,225 M more for the first quarter of 2010. In addition, it will have to pay interest on the delayed installments to the company’s budget.

In February 2010, Finance Minister Djankov declared that Bulgaria will pay its dues whenever the state budget could afford that. However, this has allowed the Russian stakeholders to blame the delay of much of the business activities on the project on Bulgaria.

In mid March 2010, the Russian paper Vedomosti leaked a letter of the Transneft President Nikolai Tokarev from the fall of 2009 which makes it clear that there is not enough oil to fill the pipe in Bulgaria and Greece.

Rosneft, Transneft and Gazpromneft are the three Russian companies forming the consortium holding 51% of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline, which is supposed to provide the oil for the project.

The Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline is planned to have an initial capacity of at least 35 million tons of per year.

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