Trans-Balkan Pipeline Projects Compete for Caspian Oil

Trans-Balkan Pipeline Projects Compete for Caspian Oil

TIRANA, Albania -- With the price of crude oil having recently hit $70 a barrel and energy markets staying hungry, two trans-Balkan pipeline projects are competing to bring Caspian oil to the West. Russia, Greece and Bulgaria signed an agreement for the construction of a Bourgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline on Sept. 4, and a rival Albania-Macedonia-Bulgaria pipeline is on the drawing board.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, oil companies have devoted vast amounts of capital to developing the oil and gas reserves of the Caspian Sea region. The total oil reserve of the region, estimated at above 200 billion barrels, exceeds that of Western Europe and the United States and is second only to the Middle East.

Currently, Caspian oil transported via the Black Sea takes a troublesome and costly voyage through the Bosporus straits, but the new pipelines would bypass the Bosporus and take oil directly from the Black Sea to ports on the Adriatic and Aegean seas.

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