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Is the Missile Dispute Hampering Pipeline Deals?

It seems that disagreement over the U.S. plans to deploy anti-ballistic missile sites in Poland and the Czech Republic is causing delays between Russia and its partners in regards to energy deals, including the Bourgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project – which is a critical strategy for the Russians to break the Turkish control over export routes to the Mediterranean. It now appears that Russia, Bulgaria, and Greece will sign agreements next week. From the Sofia Echo:

RUSSIA, BULGARIA AND GREECE TO SIGN BOURGAS-ALEXANDROUPOLIS AGREEMENT IN MID-MARCH The Bourgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline agreement will probably be signed in Athens on March 14 or 15 2007 during the Bulgarian-Russian-Greek summit. The agreement had to be signed on March 6 2007, but the procedure was postponed. Greek media said that the delay resulted from different positions of Russia and Greece on US anti-missile system to be located in Europe. Bulgaria’s Regional Development and Public Works Minister Assen Gagauzov, Russia’s minister of industry and energy Viktor Hristenko and Greek Minister for Development Dimitris Sioufas will sign the agreement for construction and utilisation of the pipeline, Russian news agency ITAR-TASS said. Russian and Bulgarian presidents Vladimir Putin and Georgi Purvanov and Greek prime minister Kostas Karamanlis will be present at the signing, ITAR-TASS said. Bourgas-Alexandroupolis will transport oil from Russia through Bulgaria to Greece, bypassing the busy Bosporus Strait in Turkey. The pipeline will be 312 km long and will transfer 30 to 50 million tons of oil per year. It will cost nearly $700 million and has to be finished by 2010.