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Dirty energy

New pipeline to bring Russian oil to Mediterranean

Under discussion since 1993 the pipeline is expected to reduce the oil-tanker congestion at the Bosphorus and the Dardanel Straits and therefore to speed up the transport of crude oil.
The oil pipeline will stretch 280 km from Bourgas in Bulgaria to Alexandroupolis (approximately 135 kilometres of the pipeline will be on Greek territory). The project will have a total budget of 750-800 mill. euros at today's prices and a transport capacity of 35 mill. tonnes a year. The storage facilities which will be built at the port of Alexandroupolis will have a total capacity of 650,000 metric tonnes; they will have special loading and unloading infrastructure and will be able to serve tankers of up to 300,000 tonnes. The construction of the pipeline is expected to be completed by the beginning of 2009

Two weeks after the weak agreements on climate change, renewables and energy efficiency during the EU Spring Summit, this project shows the real commitments of the EU. The pipeline has been welcomed by Commissioner Piebalgs and it is expected that the project will get financial support from the EU, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Developement (EBRD) and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

This pipeline clearly contradicts the efforts to meet the EU targets to combat climate change and drives the EU taxpayers' money towards unsustainable and dirty energy solutions in a time where more support for renewables and energy efficiency would be urgently needed.The EU and the International Financial Institutions should stop backing these short-term and astronomically expensive projects if there is to be a meaningful greenhouse gas reduction in the EU!

Bulgarian environmental NGOs raised also concerns that the Bourgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline will cross important Natura 2000 and Ramsar sites, including the famous Mandra-Poda lake complex near Burgas (on the Via Pontica migratory route for birds) and the Tundzha River gorge on the Bulgarian-Turkish border. Proponents of the oil pipelines claim that they will reduce the risk of oil tanker accidents in the crowded and narrow Turkish Straits. However it is expected that the construction of by-pass pipelines will ultimately increase the overall oil transport and risks of pollution in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean due to increased traffic to and from the new terminals.

This pipeline will also increase Europe's energy dependence on Russia, which already supplies a third of Europe's oil and 40% of its natural gas.


© Christian Kaufmann
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