Russian President Vladimir Putin urged Bulgaria and Greece to come to an agreement on an oil pipeline to relieve congestion in Turkey's Bosporus straits, which are already clogged with tanker traffic from the Black Sea.
``If our Greek and Bulgarian partners are unable to solve problems on their side, we'll be forced to increase transit capacities through other countries,'' Putin said in the Kremlin today during his annual press conference with foreign and domestic reporters. ``It's necessary to reach an acceptable agreement as fast as possible.''
Russia plans to take a 51 percent stake in the $1 billion project. OAO Gazprom Neft disclosed on its Web site today that it had formed a group with state-run oil company OAO Rosneft and state pipeline operator OAO Transneft to hold Russia's stake in the pipeline.
Putin said the absence of an accord between Greece and Bulgaria could endanger the whole project. Officials from the three countries plan to meet in the Bulgarian port city of Burgas on Feb. 7 to complete an agreement signed in Athens last September.
The deal, under consideration for more than a decade, calls for building a 258-kilometer (155-mile) pipeline from Burgas to the Greek port of Alexandroupolis, bypassing the Turkish straits. Russia has since suggested that Kazakhstan, the second-largest oil producer in the former Soviet Union, could also join as an equity partner in the project.
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