Bulgaria's parliament has ratified two international agreements for trans-Balkan oil pipelines. The Albanian Macedonian Oil Pipeline (AMBO) is a 895km line from Bourgas on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast to the Albanian port of Vlore on the Adriatic coast. The other is a 280km pipeline from Bourgas to the Greek town of Alexandropolis on the northern coast of the Aegean.
Both pipelines have a planned capacity of 35 million tonnes a year. The Bourgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline could eventually be expanded to 50 million. The pipes will carry mainly Caspian oil from the Black Sea, avoiding the crowded Bosphorus, the world's most narrow strait used for international navigation, linking the European and Asian parts of Turkey.
Plans for the pipes are a decade old and have finally been ratified through a combination of higher oil prices, increased production in the Caspian, mounting congestion and expensive delays in the Bosphorus.
The Bourgas-Alexandropolis pipeline, which is expected to cost about 900 million, is due to finish by the end of 2009. Equity in the project is shared between the three states involved: Russia (51%), to state-owned enterprises, including oil producers Gazprom Neft and Rosneft and pipeline operator Transneft; Bulgaria (24.5%) to state-owned national gas firm Bulgargaz and construction company Techoexportstroy; and Greece (24.5%), to Hellenic Petroleum and Thraki.
The AMBO pipeline is expected to cost more than 1.2 billion, with a 2011 completion date.