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Bulgaria Hopes for No Penalties Scenario over Oil Pipeline Project

Date: 02.07.2010

Bulgaria may escape penalties for pulling out of Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project since Russia was the first to break the rules by seeking a change in the financing scheme, Bulgaria's finance minister claims.

“The Russian side was the first to break the contract, which means that Bulgaria will not face damages should it decide to dump the project,” Minister Simeon Djankov said in parliament on Friday.

“The cost of the project has been put at about EUR 2 B, but there is no analysis about its financing so far,” the minister said.

According to him this is one of the reasons for suspending the project, together with the expected assessment of its impact on the environment.

“All required documents will be submitted to the Environment Ministry by the end of October and the assessment will be ready before the end of February,” Djankov said.

The statement comes two weeks after Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borisov unexpectedly said that his country was giving up on Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project decision, and that construction on the planned Belene nuclear power plant had been suspended.

In a dramatic twist that left all of Europe confused, Borisov retracted his statement on the Burgas-Alexandroupolis project hours later, saying that “the Bulgarian government hasn’t made a final decision regarding the construction of the oil pipeline.”

Meanwhile Russia warned that it may indefinitely delay construction of the oil pipeline across Bulgaria and Greece if Sofia does not complete its revision of the plan in the next few months.

Greece, which the European Union is saving from defaulting on its foreign debt, has also recently called for the plan to move ahead as soon as possible in anticipation of investment and future transit fees.

Transneft, along with Rosneft and Gazpromneft hold Russia’s 51 % of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis Pipeline (BAPline), while Bulgaria, through state-owned Technoexportstroy, and Greece own 24.5 % each.

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