Friday, March 14, 2008

Oil: Bulgarian opposition parties call for referendum on pipeline

Local media reports that Bulgarian opposition parties are expected to table a motion to hold a national referendum on the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil transit pipeline.

The motion was scheduled to be tabled on Thursday, but the opposition decided to postpone it until Friday in order to collect the necessary 60 signatures of MPs in order to demand a referendum.

The move is supported by the United Democratic Forces Coalition(UDF), the Democrats for Strong Bulgaria party (DSB), the Bulgarian National Union coalition (BNU) and the "Ataka" party.

MP Rumen Angelov from BNU said, "There are many uncertainties regarding the pipeline construction and the promoting of Bulgaria's national interests. I am sure that a lot of people will participate in the national referendum because in contrast to the local referendum in the city of Burgas, this one will have legal impact".

There are several competitive pipeline projects, such as the AMBO pipeline from Burgas to Vlore, Pan-European Pipeline from ConstanĊ£a to Trieste, Odessa-Brody-Plotsk pipeline, Kiykoy-Ibrice pipeline, and Samsun-Ceyhan pipeline - all aimed to transport oil from the Black Sea bypassing Turkish straits.

The project of the Burgas-Alexandroupoli pipeline is described as one of the shortest pipeline through a plain terrain and therefore to be one of the cheapest and cost effective. The critics of the the Burgas-Alexandroupoli pipeline project have raised environmental concerns because of oil tankers traffic in the Aegean Sea, which contains numerous submerged rocks and island populations dependent on tourism and fishing. It has been mentioned that a possible oil spill in the Aegean would be devastating for Greece's tourism industry.