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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Balkans Eyes Oil From East

SKOPJE, Macedonia -- The Albanian, Macedonian and Bulgarian Oil Corp., or AMBO, said Thursday it would start raising funds in early July for a $1.13 billion pipeline to ship crude oil from the Black and Caspian seas to the West.

"The feasibility study gives oil companies operating in the Caspian region a commercially compelling proposition to invest in the project. Almost all major companies in the world can use the pipeline," said AMBO executive vice president Gligor Taskovic.

AMBO, registered in the United States, has letters of acceptance from the governments of Albania, Macedonia and Bulgaria for the 900-kilometer-long underground link.

Taskovic said companies including Texaco, Chevron, Exxon Mobil, BP Amoco, Agip and TotalElfFina were interested in the pipeline, which will become operational in 2005.

The pipeline, linking Bulgaria's Black Sea port of Bourgas with the Albanian port of Valona via Macedonia, will bypass Turkey's busy Bosphorus Strait.

"We will begin formal discussions with these companies in two weeks," he said, adding that it would take time to raise the money needed for the project.

"This will take one or two years. We need to raise $450 million in equity funding. The rest of the money will be loans from banks."

He said he had talked to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the World Bank's insurance agency MIGA, its International Finance Corp. and the U.S. Overseas Prime Investment Corp. and that they were excited about the project.