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Bulgaria abandons Russia-Greece oil pipeline project

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Bulgaria's outgoing parliament confirmed on Thursday a government decision to pull out of the long-stalled Burgas Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project.

A total 115 lawmakers in the 240-seat legislature voted to throw out a 2007 agreement with Russia and Greece for the 280-kilometre (175-mile) pipeline meant to bring Russian oil to Greece via Bulgaria.

Twenty-five lawmakers voted against the move, and one abstained.

The outgoing right-wing government had already suggested abandoning the project in late 2011 due to environmental concerns and doubts about its economic viability, and with its partners still keen on it, Bulgaria has now pulled out unilaterally.

The pipeline, which was to run overland from the Bulgarian Black Sea port of Burgas to Alexandroupolis on the Aegean Sea, would have cost between $6.8 and $7.9 billion dollars (5.2 and 6.0 billion euros), Finance Minister Simeon Djankov said Thursday.

Bulgaria would have had to pay a quarter of that sum, he added.

"When you calculate this huge expense and the possible financial benefits for Bulgaria, you see that the project is not in Bulgaria's interest," Djankov said.

Parliament has scrambled to pass motions before it is dissolved next week following the government's shock resignation on February 20.

Last week, it confirmed an earlier government decision to abandon plans for a new Russian-built nuclear power plant.

Early elections are planned for May 12, after the cash-strapped cabinet of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov threw in the towel amid massive street pressure over growing poverty and corruption in the EU's poorest member state.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130307/bulgaria-abandons-russia-greece-oil-pipeline-project