Oil transfer from Greece

The task now is to bring oil to Alexandroupoli in Greece in tankers and pump it from there to Bulgaria.

(Photo: IMAGO/SNA)

Athens Greece Y Bulgaria they want to revive old plans for a crude oil pipeline between the Black Sea and the Aegean Sea. But instead of from north to south, oil is now supposed to flow from south to north. So the pipeline could help the EU and NATO-Member Bulgaria independent of oil imports Russia close. The pipeline, which would connect the Bulgarian Black Sea port of Burgas with the Greek city of Alexandroupoli in the north Aegean, was first considered in 1993.

Now, however, the Russian invasion of the Ukraine puts the project in a new light. In early January, the Greek and Bulgarian energy ministers agreed to resume planning for the line, albeit under a new flag.

While the original Trans-Balkan pipeline was supposed to carry crude oil from the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea, the task now is to bring oil to Alexandroupoli in tankers and pump it from there to Bulgaria. It would be possible to extend the line to Constanta in Romania.

Above all, Bulgaria could use the planned pipeline to ensure supplies from its only refinery, Neftochim Burgas. The company is 93 percent owned by the European subsidiary of the Russian group lukoilHolding Lukoil Europe.

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Neftochim Burgas is the largest refinery in Southeast Europe and also supplies petroleum products to other Balkan countries. Until now, the refinery has been powered by Russian oil, which crosses the Black Sea in tankers.

Capacity for ten million tons of crude oil per year

An embargo on imports of Russian oil by sea has been in force in the EU since December 5. However, Bulgaria has negotiated an exception with the EU. It is valid until the end of 2024.
Greek energy company Copelouzos Group, which participated in the original consortium in the 1990s, is also showing interest in reviving the pipeline project.

Greco-Bulgarian pipeline

In the future, oil will also be pumped from Greece to Bulgaria.

(Photo: NurPhoto/Getty Images)

The company’s president, Dimitris Copelouzos, confirmed the plans in this regard during a visit to Alexandroupoli last weekend in talks with media representatives. Due to the preparatory work carried out at that time, the project should be able to be implemented relatively quickly.

You don’t have to “start from scratch,” Copelouzos said. While the original pipeline was supposed to have an annual capacity of 35 to 50 million tons of crude oil, plans are now being made for a much smaller pipeline of around 10 million tons per year.

>> Read here: Why are so many Chinese buying up Greek properties?

The construction costs, which were estimated at around one billion euros for the original project, need to be recalculated on the basis of current prices. Economically, I could speak for the project that the Turkey As of October 2022, transit fees for ships in the Bosphorus have increased almost fivefold. The fee increased from $0.83 per net tonnage to $4.08.

Original plans for the pipeline.

The original plan was to bring crude oil from Russia, Kazakhstan and the Caucasus republics to the Bulgarian port of Burgas in tankers and pump it from there through a 262-kilometre pipeline to the port of Alexandroupoli in the northern Greek Aegean. From there, the crude had to be transported by sea to international markets.

graphic

The pipeline was intended to avoid costly and time-consuming tanker journeys through the congested Bosphorus and Dardanelles. In 1994, Greece, Bulgaria and Russia agreed to an initial declaration of intent to build the pipeline.

In 1998 the Transbalkan Pipeline Company was established. Russian state-owned companies Rosneft, Transneft and owned 51 percent of the joint venture. Gazprom Neft. The Bulgarian and Greek companies each held 24.5 per cent of the shares.

In 2007, the heads of government of Greece, Bulgaria and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an agreement in Athens on the construction of the pipeline. Laying was scheduled to begin in 2008, and commissioning was scheduled for 2011.

>> Read here: Why does Russia now have to sell its oil?

But that didn’t happen. In 2008, resistance to the development of the oil port and the laying of the pipeline began to stir in and around Burgas. The line must cross two nature reserves. In 2010, the Bulgarian government withdrew from the project over environmental concerns.

More: Greece parts company with Russian gas: a German company is helping

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