Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Greece and Russia Sign Long-Term Oil Protocol

ATHENS -- Greece and Russia signed a protocol Monday opening the way for a major deal in which Russia will supply Greece with millions of cubic meters of natural gas from late 1995.

Greece's Public Gas Corporation, DEPA, forecasts sales of 704 million cubic meters of natural gas in 1996, growing to 3.7 billion cubic meters by 2020.

The initial agreement was signed in 1987 and supplies of gas were to begin from 1992. But slow work from the Greek side caused construction to fall far behind schedule.

Russia's deputy prime minister and foreign trade minister, Oleg Davydov, and Greek Foreign Minister Carolos Papoulias signed a protocol extending by 10 years the period under which Russia guarantees supplies -- from 2016 to 2026.

"Today we are studying several major investment cooperation projects," Davydov said, adding that commercial ties between the two countries were increasing.

"We consider this project a preliminary step in the spheres of industry and energy in which our two countries can proceed," he said.

"This is a great day for Greek-Russian relations," Papoulias told a news conference.

He said delegations of the two countries discussed possible projects that include the sale of Russian electricity to Italy via Greece and the construction of an oil pipeline from Bulgaria's Black Sea coast to Greece's Aegean Sea that will bypass Turkey's Bosporus strait.

"Regarding the pipeline, the results (of the study) will be known within the next few months and they will be positive," Greek Industry Minister Costas Simitis told the news conference.

The natural gas project, which is estimated to cost over $1.5 billion, entails 511 kilometers of main pipeline from the Bulgarian border south to the capital, Athens.

Regional pipelines will be about 400 kilometers long, and urban networks will total about 6,500 kilometers.

The Greek government renegotiated some of the agreement's terms so that Greece would not have to start paying for gas that it was not receiving. Also, Russia set aside plans to build an electricity supply plant using natural gas in northern Greece and will instead be involved in other investment projects.

"The last big loose end in the natural gas project is tied up," Simitis said. He added that much of the money that Greece will pay for the natural gas will go toward credits for the sale of Greek products to Russia.