Oil gambit Bulgaria. Why Sofia's green light for Russian oil?
Material posted: Publication date: 26-04-2016
The unexpected refusal of Sofia of all claims under the oil pipeline project Burgas — Alexandroupolis gives Moscow the opportunity to bypass the Turkish Straits, and Bulgaria — forward to the resumption of South stream.

After lengthy negotiations with Russian and American oil companies Bulgaria agreed to withdraw from Amsterdam a suit for liquidation of a Dutch project company Trans-Balkan Pipeline B. V. About this Life reported a source in the Russian-Bulgarian intergovernmental Commission. This means that the oil pipeline project "Burgas — Alexandroupolis" can be resuscitated.

Now oil tankers coming from Russian ports on the Black sea to Europe through Turkey controlled the Straits. On average, two major oil — loading port Novorossiysk ICC and the terminal southern Ozereevka "Caspian pipeline consortium" (CPC exports of Russian and Kazakh oil pipeline Tengiz — Novorossiysk) — the year is about 70 million tons of crude oil. Last year the total volume was 72.8 million tonnes (30 million tons fell on the share of Novorossiysk).

To decongest the ports and to send the tankers through the Turkish Straits, Russia in the mid-90s suggested the laying of the pipe, which could become an alternative to oil shipments via the congested and hostile now the Bosporus and Dardanelles. The negotiations began only in the 2000s.


Photo: © tbpipeline.com

In 2007, Russia, Bulgaria and Greece signed an agreement on construction of a pipeline with a capacity of up to 50 million tons per year and a length of 285 km away from Bulgaria's Bourgas to the Greek Alexandroupolis. In 2008, the project participants created the company Trans-Balkan Pipeline B. V., became the operator of the pipeline. Interestingly, 51% of the shares in equal shares was distributed among the Russian "Transneft", "Rosneft", "Gazprom Neft" and the Greek Helpe-Thraki A. E. the Government of Greece went up 24.5%, and Bulgaria through the "Project company oil pipeline "Burgas — Alexandroupolis BG" also has received 24,5%.


15 March 2007. Athens. Photo: ©kremlin.ru

The project cost was estimated at $1.2 billion TBP has started preparation of the project, but work is often postponed, and in 2010 Bulgaria were frozen under the pretext of environmental hazards. In 2011, Sophia and even to withdraw from the project.

In the summer of 2015, after the proposal of Greece to renew the draft, to negotiate with Bulgaria came back again. First to persuade her tried Russia, but the Bulgarian Ministry of Finance of its position on the project has not changed. Then to dissuade the Bulgarians did the American Chevron, more interested in the short arm of the transportation, as a shareholder (15%) of the CTC.

The remaining interest in the project were distributed among the structures of "Transneft", "LUKOIL", "Rosneft", the Kazakh "KazMunaiGas", etc. By the end of 2016, the capacity of CTC needs to be 67 million tonnes (now around 48 million tonnes). In the process of negotiations, Chevron may enter into the capital of the Greek-Bulgarian pipeline, does not exclude the President of "Transneft" Nikolay Tokarev.

"I think that for the CTC, this topic takes on new meaning in the logic of the expansion of the consortium. So the route through the Mediterranean sea in Burgas, probably, in the first place more interesting for them. Oh, and for Kazakh partners in General, because they in the near term start a large project, Kashagan in the Caspian shelf with reserves of 4.8 billion tons of oil."

Nikolay Tokarev, President of Transneft

But Americans, apparently, to persuade the Bulgarians failed last autumn Bulgaria filed suit in the court of Amsterdam on the elimination of Trans-Balkan Pipeline B. V.

But it managed Russia: in the framework of the last intergovernmental Commission Bulgarian government has assured Russia that it would withdraw its claim, — the source of life in the organization. Official representative of "Transneft" Igor Demin confirmed the information about the withdrawal of the suit. It is obvious that the fate of the project now depends entirely on Bulgaria. Demin did not say when the can be resumed work on the project. The representative of Chevron Sally Jones and the Bulgarian Finance Ministry declined to comment.


According to the information of life, Bulgaria returned to the project for a reason. As told us a source in the Commission, Sofia the negotiations decided to once again raise the question of the resumption of the project "South stream".

"I got the impression that Bulgaria went on a review of the claim in order to obtain the gas pipe. Anyway, the project "South stream" is closed, but if the Bulgarian colleagues will receive the approval of the EC, "Gazprom" will think about him back. We Bulgarians said so."

The source of life in the Ministry of energy of Russia

Bulgaria had previously proposed to her now frozen "Turkish stream". Officially, Russia has agreed to reconsider the project, but only under the condition that he not will be made by the European Commission, confirms the acquaintance with the text of the conclusions of the intergovernmental Commission the source of life.

The project was closed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in December 2014. Bulgaria demanded from Russia to buy 50 percent stake in the Bulgarian joint venture South Stream Bulgaria AD, but received no reply.


Photo: © RIA Novosti/Sergey Guneyev

— Despite the contradictions with the European Commission, in the leadership of Bulgaria has the task to improve relations with Russia, says a leading expert of the national energy security Fund Stanislav Mitrachovich, against this background, the resumption of any old projects logical.

For Russia, the resumption of cooperation with Bulgaria is also beneficial.

Over the past five years the Russian Federation has established other export routes for its oil (in 2012 was introduced the Baltic pipeline system with a total capacity of 80 million tons of oil per year), Russia is still important renewal project — the replacement of tanker shipments on the pipeline will allow to avoid possible problems with the passage of tankers through Turkey controlled the Bosporus and Dardanelles, says Mitrachovich. But then the power tubes will have to increase at least up to 90 million tons per year. In his opinion, the work on the project Burgas — Alexandroupolis can be renewed with the increase in oil prices.

Tags: Russia , Europe , oil , Balkans , energy