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By John Helmer, Moscow

This time it seems to be clear that Transneft, Russia state-owned oil pipeline company, has had quite enough of both the Bulgarians and the Turks, and has told them it won’t build its planned pipelines across the territory of either of them. This puts an end, a temporary end probably, to the three-cornered political games the governments have been playing for more than a year now.

Transneft announced today to Fairplay that it has decided to freeze work on the Burgas-Alexandroupolis route on the western shore of the Black Sea; and also the Samsun-Ceyhan route on the eastern side of the sea. Igor Dyomin, the Transneft spokesman told Fairplay in Moscow: “We are a commercial entity and having our fingers in politics would be incorrect. The Bulgarian side is interested in the pipeline, and the Bulgarian Ministry of Finance has taken steps forward to develop it, but we understand that the country has insufficient funds to finance the project. Bulgaria has even failed to cover its part of the development costs in the joint venture amounting to several million Euro, which isn’t a big sum. Changing the government will obviously not help find the money. On the other side, Bulgaria doesn’t wish to hand the project over to a third party not to lose the future income. So we have decided to freeze the project for a while to cut the current costs to a minimum.”

“The Turkish side has not given us a thorough economic evaluation of the Samsun-Ceyhan project. The unofficial transport costs reach $30 per tonne, which is unacceptable. For comparison, the Burgas-Alexandroupolis transport costs are only around $8. As soon as the Turkish side gives us adequate economic calculations, we will be ready to resume our cooperation on the project.”

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