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Russia: Gazprom Plans New Pipeline; Blow to Bulgaria

By Stephanie Baker and Petko Georgiev

Moscow, 6 November 1996 (RFE/RL) - A spokesman for Russia's energy giant Gazprom today confirmed that the company has decided to build a new gas pipeline under the Black Sea to Turkey.

Sergei Smirnov told RFE/RL that Gazprom decided to go ahead with the project. He said construction of the pipeline, costing more than $1 billion, would probably start next year.

Smirnov said Gazprom had not ruled out the possibility of building another pipeline through Bulgaria sometime in future. His comments follow Bulgarian media reports which said Bulgaria had been dropped from the Gazprom project. Disagreements on issues like profit sharing, and Bulgarian delays in deciding the siting of the proposed line on its territory, were given as reasons.

An RFE correspondent in Sofia says Bulgaria had been hoping to collect millions of dollars in transit fees from the pipeline.

Gazprom said the undersea line will connect the Russian port of Tuapse to Turkey. It said realization of the project would not only help ease energy problems in Turkey, but would also mean investment in the Russian pipeline network, resulting in thousands of jobs.