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Greece irked by oil pipeline delays

The Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Map_of_Burgas-alexandroupoli_pipeline.gif" target="_blank">via Wikimedia Commons.</a>
The Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline, via Wikimedia Commons.

ATHENS, Greece, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- The Greek government wants Bulgaria to back the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, a Greek official said.

Bulgaria in 2007 signed an agreement with Russia and Greece to build the 174-mile oil pipeline to bypass crowded waterways near Turkey with an overland route to the Aegean Sea.

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In December 2009, Sofia said the terms of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis contract wouldn't deliver an economic benefit and Boyko Borisov, the country's prime minister, said during the summer that he was "giving up" on the oil pipeline.

Bulgarian environmental officials said the environmental impact assessment of the pipeline wasn't satisfactory.

Yannis Maniatis, a Greek deputy minister in charge with environmental affairs, told the Interfax news agency that Bulgaria was dragging its feet on the pipeline.

"What changed is the position of our Bulgarian partners," he was quoted as saying. "From the very start of the discussions to this day all governments of Greece have supported the idea for the construction of this oil pipeline firmly and decisively."

He maintained his side of the project is in line with European laws, which he said confirms the "the project does not pose a threat to the environment."

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In June, Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said delays from Sofia were creating problems for the pipeline, describing the project as "practically suspended."

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