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Vladimir Putin and Sergei Stanishev will focus on bilateral energy cooperation when they meet later Tuesday
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev will focus on bilateral energy cooperation when they meet later Tuesday, the Kremlin press service said. Stanishev, on a two-day visit to Russia, will also meet with his Russian counterpart, Mikhail Fradkov. Ahead of the meeting, Putin told a Cabinet session that the Bulgarian delegation "has drawn up a broad agenda for bilateral relations and international matters." Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Naryshkin, who is also co-chairman of the Russian-Bulgarian Intergovernmental Commission, said energy was the main area of cooperation between Russia and Bulgaria. "We have good high-tech projects in the energy sphere, primarily a new nuclear power plant project (in Belene). Our company, Atomstroyexport, has won a tender," he said. Russia's nuclear equipment export monopoly Atomstroyexport won a tender to build an NPP in Belene in October 2006. The Balkan state wants to build a second nuclear power plant in Belene, 250 kilometers (about 150 miles) from the capital, Sofia, and to modernize the Kozloduy NPP in the north of the country. Naryshkin said bilateral trade and economic relations have been growing steadily in the past two to three years. "Last year alone, it [trade] grew around 55%," he said. He said four intergovernmental agreements would be signed - on the protection of intellectual property in the military-technical sphere, on the protection of classified information, a general agreement on economic and scientific-technical cooperation, and a tourism cooperation agreement. According to Russia's Foreign Ministry, Russia is Bulgaria's third largest trading partner, after Germany and Italy. Russia's trade with Bulgaria hit $3 billion in 2005. Russia, Bulgaria and Greece signed a long-delayed deal to build a pipeline across their territories to pump Russian oil further on to Europe. The 280-kilometer (175-mile) Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline will carry Russian oil via the Bulgarian Black Sea port of Burgas and Greece's Alexandroupolis on the Aegean to Europe, the U.S. and the Asia-Pacific region. The pipeline will pump 35 million metric tons of oil a year (257.25 million bbl), a volume that could eventually be increased to 50 million metric tons (367.5 million bbl). Russia's state-controlled oil producer Rosneft [RTS: ROSN], state pipeline operator Transneft, and energy giant Gazprom [RTS: GAZP] will hold a total of 51% in the project, while Greece and Bulgaria will control 24.5% each. Last year, Russian energy giant Gazprom teamed up with Italy's ENI to build the Blue Stream-2 gas pipeline, which will use Turkey as a transit point for exports to the EU and have a capacity of 8 billion cubic meters. Sofia is interested in a route leading to the south of Italy, which envisions gas supplies via Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria. That would raise Bulgaria's transit revenues from the current $600 million to $2 billion. Bulgaria could also become a central element in gas deliveries from Russia to South and Central Europe.
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