WSJ: Russia Looks to Overtake the Traffic Jam at Bosporus

Today the Wall Street Journal is reporting that a proposed pipeline between Bulgaria and Greece has taken a big step forward, which is designed to overcome the transportation bottlenecks at the Turkish-controlled Bosporus Strait – the main connection between the Black Sea and the Aegean Sea. The proposed pipeline, which would mainly benefit Russian and Kazakh oil exporters, would connect Burgas, Bulgaria with the port of Alexandroupolis in Greece. greece_turkey.gif The Journal reports:

In the past several years, there have been other attempts to circumvent the Bosporus — most notably the $3.6 billion, 1,000-mile Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline that delivers oil from Azerbaijan directly to the Mediterranean. Likewise, there is no shortage of alternative proposals for pipelines that cross the Balkans or link the north coast of Turkey with the south. Some analysts doubt that the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline makes economic sense for the companies involved, leading to suggestions that Russia is pursuing the project to avoid sending the oil through Turkey. Though trade and commercial relations between Russia and Turkey have improved, historically the two countries have had an antagonistic relationship. “Russia’s real goal for the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline is to find a route past Turkey,” said Konstantinos Filis, head of the Center for Russia and Eurasia at the Institute of International Relations in Athens. Adds Julian Lee, senior energy analyst at the Center for Global Energy Studies in London, “The commercial arguments for building the pipeline are much more tenuous than the political arguments.” Roughly one-quarter of Russia’s five million barrels a day of oil exports pass through the Turkish-controlled strait. Semyon Vaynshtok, chief executive of Russian state pipeline company OAO Transneft, a member of a consortium of Russian companies involved in the pipeline, said yesterday that it has sent to Greece and Bulgaria on behalf of the Russian government a draft agreement governing the pipeline. Russian officials privately acknowledge a desire to break Turkey’s power over negotiating transit through the strait.