Financial News: Russia denies press speculation of pull-out from Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project

Russia on Wednesday denied a flurry of press speculation earlier in the day that was planning to pull out of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline and redirect the funds to other pipeline projects.

Transneft spokesman Igor Dyomin told Russia's RIA-Novosti news agency that Russia is not withdrawing from the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline plan but will "minimise" its expenditure.

"We do not intend to dissolve the project operator, we will work on cutting expenses," Dyomin told reporters in Moscow on Wednesday, following a flurry of Russian pull-out speculation earlier in the day prompted by a report in the Russian financial daily Vedomosti citing "sources close to the board of the project operator" in order to focus financing on the development of the Samsun-Ceyhan pipeline that was also carried by Bloomberg.

In a similar statement to Russian news agency ITAR-TASS, said that the shareholders of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline do not plan to shut down the project and redirect the funds to the second leg of the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline system (ESPO-2).

"The question of closing the (Burgas-Alexandroupolis) project is not on the agenda. No one is going to pump this volume of oil into the ESPO-2," he said.

Dyomin said that a meeting of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis shareholders in Rome on Thursday will discuss the debts of Bulgaria and Greece under the project and consider the proposals for its further financing, noting that Bulgaria's debt to the project stands at 7.3 million euros, and that of Greece at 129 million euros.

Dyomin further said that the shareholders’ meeting also aims to resolve the problem of reducing the staff of the operator company Trans Balkan-Pipeline project to a minimum, minimize administrative costs, and transfer contractual relationships with contractors to a state that does not require regular payments.

Transneft is one of the Russian partners in the Trans Balkan Pipeline consortium, together with Rosneft and Gazprom Neft.

Greece waiting for Russia's decisions on pipeline, gov't says

Greek government spokesman George Petalotis on Wednesday said that Athens was waiting for the Russian side to announce its decisions concerning the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline before adopting an official stance on the issue. He had been asked to comment on press reports that Russia was pulling out of the project.

Petalotis said the government was aware of the rumours but stressed that they did not originate from the Greek side but the Russians.

"Therefore, we shall first wait and see what the Russian side decides, even though our positions are more or less given," he added.

Speculation that the Russian side might pull out and redirect funds to other pipelines was set off by an article first appearing in the Russian financial daily Vedomosti on Wednesday, which cited sources "close to the board of the project operator". A spokesman for Transneft, one of the partners in the pipeline consortium, later told Russia's RIA-Novosti news agency that there were no plans to dissolve the project operator but only to minimise its expenses in a cost-cutting drive.

Putin' press office denies reports on Burgas-Alexandroupolis

Russia does not intend to pull-out of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said here on Wednesday.

"The information that Russia has lost interest in the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline or that it is preparing to pull-out of the project does not correspond to reality," Peskov told the Russian Interfax news agency.

"Moscow remains steadfast on all agreements regarding this project and continues to fulfill all obligations it has undertaken," the spokesman added.

Earlier in the day, a Transneft company spokesman, Igor Dyomin, denied a flurry of press speculation that Moscow was planning to abandon the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project and redirect financing to other pipeline projects.

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