Burgas-Alexandroupolis Saga Still Unsolved by Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan.

Bulgaria’s refusal to build the Burgas – Alexandroupolis pipeline forced Russia to seriously think over the possibility of an alternative. Not surprisingly, experts were waiting with great interest to see if the visit last week by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Turkey will finally refreeze the pipeline project Samsun – Ceyhan.

Talks about building a pipeline that will be more than 500 km long and should reduce tanker traffic in highly congested Bosporus and Dardanelles straits, have been ongoing for years. Initially, the project involved two companies – Italy’s Eni and Turkish Calik Enerji. Moscow was interested in it until the fall of 2009, just as Bulgaria for the first time said it would review its position on the Burgas-Alexandroupolis project. A little later an agreement was signed under which the construction of the pipeline Samsun – Ceyhan had to be joined by Rosneft and Transneft. Talks about shares and the participation of the two Russian companies have been fought long, but in 2011 were frozen. Now, just days before Putin’s visit to Istanbul, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak opened again the topic.

Last year we made a proposal to the Turkish partners to improve the economic parameters on Samsun – Ceyhan and we have been waiting for an answer. Primary disagreement is about the tariffs for the transportation of oil. We think they should be about USD55 per ton of oil, while the Turkish side argue that they should be USD77 per tonne, said Energy Minister told reporters.

Such financial discrepancies are not to be underestimated, since Samsun – Ceyhan is intended to transport about 60-70 million tons of oil annually, mainly from Russia, and smaller amounts of Kazakhstan. The total investment is estimated at approximately USD3 billion.

Apart from the economic point of view, the tube is unfavourable for the Russians for purely political reasons. Even if it is built, all the routes for the export of Russian oil will still remain under the control of Turkey.



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