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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Parties Close to Agreeing on Balkan Oil Route

SOFIA, Bulgaria -- Bulgaria, Greece and Russia are to sign an agreement for the construction of a long-awaited oil pipeline that will funnel Russian oil directly to southeastern Europe -- bypassing Turkey's busy Bosporus Straits, Bulgarian officials said Tuesday.

The three countries will sign the deal for the 280-kilometer pipeline at Bulgaria's Black Sea port of Burgas on Wednesday, the Bulgarian Ministry for Regional Development and Public Works announced.

The cost of the privately funded project is estimated at between $1 billion and $1.3 billion.

The pipeline will bring Russian oil from Bulgaria's Black Sea port of Burgas to Alexandroupolis in northeastern Greece, bypassing the environmentally vulnerable Bosporus Straits. Russia is expected to have a 51 percent share in the deal, with Bulgaria and Greece splitting the remaining 49 percent.

The Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline, tentatively scheduled for completion by 2010, would initially carry 700,000 barrels of oil per day with capacity set to rise to more than 1 million barrels per day eventually.

It remained unclear whether Wednesday's agreement would resolve a dispute between Sofia and Moscow over ownership of the Burgas oil terminal. Opposition lawmakers in Bulgaria argue the deal should be scrapped if Russian companies are granted control.