Bulgaria, Greece and Russia to sign agreement on construction of trans-Balkan pipeline

Bulgaria, Greece and Russia are to sign an agreement Tuesday for the construction of a trans-Balkan pipeline that will bypass Turkey's busy Bosporus strait

Under the long-delayed Ђ522 million (US$677 million) deal, a 285-kilometer (177-mile) pipeline will link Bulgaria's port of Burgas to Greece's Alexandroupolis on the Aegean Sea. Russia exports about a third of its oil production through the Black Sea.

The pipeline will allow Russia to bypass the crowded and dangerous Bosporus in Turkey, minimizing delays and potential environmental disasters.

The pipeline has a planned annual capacity of 15 million metric tons (16.5 U.S. tons) once the first stage of construction is completed, 24 million tons (26.4 U.S. tons) after completion of the second stage and 35 million on final completion. It will also be able to handle exports from oil-rich Azerbaijan via a Russian pipeline linking the Caspian and Black seas. It would also allow oil from Kazakhstan to be shipped to Burgas.

BP PLC's Russian joint venture, TNK-BP, is heading the project.

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