US GIANTS MAY BUILD USD 1,13 B TRANS-BALKAN PIPELINE

Business | February 15, 2002, Friday // 00:00

U.S. oil giants ExxonMobil Corp and ChevronTexaco Corp. are considering building a USD 1.13 B trans-Balkan pipeline to ship oil westwards from the Caspian and the Black Sea, the project's manager said, quoted by Reuters. "We are in regular discussions with ChevronTexaco and ExxonMobil and examine various aspects of the project," said Edward Ferguson, President and CEO of the Albanian, Macedonian and Bulgarian Oil Corporation (AMBO), which manages the project. The project, in discussion since 1996, envisages carrying Caspian oil from Bulgaria to Albania via Macedonia, bypassing the heavily used Bosphorus Straits through Turkey. AMBO, registered in the U.S., has letters of acceptance from the governments of the three Balkan countries for the 898 km (560 mile) underground pipeline linking Bulgaria's Black Sea port of Burgas to the Albanian port of Vlora. The pipeline would have a daily capacity of 750,000 barrels. Ferguson said the project would be fully financed by Western companies and the three Balkan countries just had to provide institutional support. AMBO was confident that another planned EUR 700 M pipeline sending crude from Russia to Greece via Bulgaria would not threaten its own project as the two had targeted different investors and consumers. "Burgas-Alexandroupulis is going to be decided by Russia, Bulgaria and Greece with the help of Russian oil companies. The decision for Burgas-Vlora will be made by Western firms supported by the U.S. and Europe," said Ferguson, quoted by Reuters.

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