Bulgaria mulls pulling out of regional oil pipeline, freezing Belene N-plant.

By bne IntelliNews June 14, 2010
Bulgaria is considering pulling out of the project to build a pipeline for transport of Russian oil from the Black Sea port of Burgas to the Greek Aegean Sea port of Alexandroupolis, PM Boyko Borisov said on Friday. After a meeting with European Union ambassadors, Borisov said Sofia would not participate in the project due to strong opposition from residents of the Black Sea coast. This is a project that the population of Burgas does not want, he said. The government has also decided to freeze the Belene nuclear power project as it is not clear when the investment will be recouped, Borisov was quoted as saying. The pipeline construction together with the EUR 4bn nuclear power plant in Belene have been placed under serious scrutiny by the government due to insufficient economic foundation and lack of a clear and systematic approach to their financing. Hours after Borisov's statement, the government press office played down his words, quoting him as saying that the country would await an environmental assessment on the pipeline project before it decides whether to scrap it or not. After that, Borisov told local media that Bulgaria expects the international environmental impact assessment of the pipeline but there is no way it would be positive as the pipeline would go through areas included in the Natura 2000 network. The statement of the PM came as a complete surprise not only to the Russian and Greek side but also to his cabinet ministers. When asked by journalists to comment on the news, Economy and Energy Minister Traicho Traikov initially replied: I cannot believe he has said that. Hours later, the minister issued comments that were in line with Borisov's statements. The conflicting messages on the projects were due to breaches in the communication, Regional Development Minister Rosen Plevneliev said on Saturday.

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