Who are TBP?

The TBP project is based on a trilateral Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) between Bulgaria, Greece and Russia, which was signed in March 2007 and subsequently ratified by the parliaments of these countries for the Construction and the Operation of the "Burgas-Alexandroupolis" Oil Pipeline. The TBP Project is implemented through the Trans-Balkan Pipeline B.V. (TBP), an international company registered in the Netherlands with local branches registered in Bulgaria and Greece. The company was set up in accordance with the IGA to prepare all the relevant studies, apply for the relevant permissions and construct and operate the project.

Who owns shares in TBP?

The Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation, the Government of the Republic of Bulgaria and the Government of the Hellenic Republic Relating to the Cooperation in the Construction and the Operation of the "Burgas-Alexandroupolis" Oil Pipeline established the following distribution of Trans-Balkan Pipeline B.V. share capital among the shareholders:

  • 51.0% - Russian shares: Pipeline Consortium “Burgas-Alexandroupolis” Ltd.;

  • 24.5% - Bulgarian shares: Joint stock company “Project Company Oil Pipeline Burgas-Alexandroupolis – BG” AD; which is 100% owned by “Technoexportstroy” EAD;

  • 24.5% - Greek shares: “Helpe-Thraki A.E.” (23.5%); Hellenic Republic (1%). The Greek participant “Helpe-Thraki A.E.” was founded jointly by “Hellenic Petroleum” (25%) and “Thraki” (75%).

Why is the project important?

The TBP pipeline is important as it will create a new and reliable oil supply route through Europe, reducing the need for tankers to move oil through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits, which results in delays, increased accident risk and consequent environmental repercussions in the Straits, the Black Sea and the North Aegean Sea. The TBP pipeline will increase European energy security and environmental safety. The project will implement the agreement between the Governments of Russia, Bulgaria and Greece. In Bulgaria the project was declared a Project of National Interest in February 2009 by the Government and a similar announcement is expected in Greece.

What are the reasons for this project?

The purpose of the Trans-Balkan Pipeline is to carry crude oil produced in Russia and the Northern Caspian region to destinations in the European Union, North America and other international markets.

  • For the increase in crude oil production expected in the near future the pipeline will serve as a transportation route in addition to the shipping of oil through the Bosporus and Dardanelle Straits.

  • The Straits are a bottleneck for maritime transport with physical limitations regarding tanker size and with long waiting times for ships. Traffic density and tanker accident risks constitute threats to the environment in the Bosporus and the Dardanelles Straits and hence also to the Black Sea and the North Aegean.

  • With the TBP Project, the crude oil will be transported by tankers from oil ports in the Black Sea to Burgas / Bulgaria and from there, via the Trans-Balkan Pipeline, to Alexandroupolis / Greece. In Alexandroupolis it will be loaded onto tankers that will take the crude oil to its final destination.

  • The TBP system will initially transport 35 million tones of crude oil per year (MTA), with the design capacity to rise to 50 MTA possibly after 4 years.

Where will the oil be sourced?

The crude oil will come from a variety of sources, including the Ural region and Western Siberia as well as the northern Caspian region.

How much will the project cost and who will pay for this?

The exact cost of the project has not yet been calculated but is likely to be in the region of 1-1.5 billion Euros. The project will be paid for by the project partners and a consortium of banks.

What criteria will be used to determine the final route and positioning of facilities?

A number of issues will be considered to determine the final route, including issues related to the environment, social concerns, archaeological and historical values, health and safety, constructability and maintenance as well as the views of local residents, ministries and NGO’s. The Project will consider all these issues and come up with a balanced route, which reduces impacts to the minimum.

Who makes up the TBP planning team?

TBP has brought together a team of leading firms of international and local experts in engineering, environmental and social issues to design the best possible project.

TBP’s Planner for Siting and Routing and for the Basic Design of the TBP Project is ILF Consulting Engineers (Munich/ Germany). On the technical side in Bulgaria, Sofia-based CRS are involved, and in Greece - Athens-based Asprofos. For the ESIA, ILF is cooperating with the international environmental consultancy Environ-mental Resources Management (ERM) who is guiding the ESIA process to international standards. The ESIA work is being conducted by the following subcontractors: the local Bulgarian environmental consultancy GeoMarine (Sofia) and the Greek environmental Consultancy Exergia (Athens). Further, also involved in the TBP Project are Société Générale as financial advisor, Allen & Overy as legal advisor, the American company CERA as market consultants, KPMG as auditor of the Company and Deloitte and Touche as tax advisors. The Greek law firm Karatzas and Partners and the Bulgarian Law Firm Spasov and Bratanov have been nominated as Local Legal Advisors to the project.

What stage of the study are you at now?

Project planning is a staged process. First the routing corridor for the pipeline is narrowed down successively taking into account various constraints and results of our technical studies. Various siting options for the tank farms, the pump stations and SPMs are evaluated and assessed until a preferred site is selected. The level of detail increases with each planning stage. The main steps are:

  • Siting and Routing Studies

  • Basic Design for the selected option

  • Environmental Studies (this is where we are at now)

  • Detailed Engineering Design for Construction

Greece: In terms of the environmental studies, in Greece Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Report (ESIA) was submitted to the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change in Athens in September 2010. The next steps are the distribution of the ESIA to the other statutory consultees who will provide their views and the public consultations. Further proceeding is pending to be in parallel with Bulgaria.

Bulgaria: In Bulgaria a revised Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Report (ESIA) was submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Water in Sofia on May 19th, 2011. After the Ministry’s approval, the next steps would be the distribution of the ESIA to the municipalities and the public consultations.

What about the studies carried out several years ago in Greece?

Greece: In Greece a Preliminary Environmental Impact Assessment (PEIA) was carried out for the proposed pipeline route about 8 years ago and in fact received a positive opinion from the Ministry of Environment. A pre-license was obtained. However, TBP felt that this study needed to be updated and thus it was their decision to start the environmental permitting procedure from the beginning. So now we have prepared a fresh PEIA. This gave us the chance to commence dialogue with the authorities and the public from the early stages of the project and exchange views with them, such as we are doing right now.

What is the program for public consultation?

The project will comply with the Greek and Bulgarian regulatory requirements for disclosure of project information and for undertaking consultations with stakeholders and the public. On top of that the project will also comply with international best practice which places special emphasis on early consultation, especially at the scoping stage. So TBP are going beyond the national requirements.

The next step will be further consultation on specific issues during the ESIA process.

Then, once the ESIA has been completed, disclosure consultations will follow. So over the course of the next few months we will be talking to you at several stages of the project.

Who does the Project inform and consult with?

In terms of who will be informed/ consulted the groups are: government bodies (national and local) (e.g. Ministries or local departments/ governmental organizations), institutes/ centers/ agencies, organizations representing specific groups, NGOs, the Prefecture, the Technical Chamber, business organizations/ industry organizations and of course – most importantly – the public, i.e. you!

How can we ensure that our concerns are heard?

All your concerns will be heard and recorded and they will be taken into consideration in developing the project. We are setting up a Query Management Mechanism whereby all issues which are raised are documented and logged and follow-up is assured. Contact details for TBP are available on the project leaflets and on the TBP website.

Are you consulting with the public because you are legally obliged to do so?

TBP declared from the very beginning that transparent discussions and mutual dialogue shall be pursued and that the public concerns shall be taken seriously.

Bulgaria: The regulatory Bulgarian ESIA process envisages consultation elements at the scoping stage and when the results of the ESIA are publicly discussed. This is fully in line with EU requirements and international best practice. In addition to this national legally prescribed process, TBP undertook public consultation in both countries from the earliest stages of the project.

Greece: Legally public consultation is undertaken once the full ESIA is submitted, but it was the company’s policy to commence public consultation at the onset of the studies. Consultation is being undertaken in line with international best practice which goes well beyond the national requirements. It is the first time in Greece that consultation has been undertaken at such an early stage of a project. We made contact with you as early as November 2008. We felt it was vital to hear your views and opinions so we could feed them into the Preliminary EIA and the further development of the project.

How will the Project impact the areas important for nature conservation and birdlife?

The aim of careful siting and routing is to avoid impacting sensitive natural environments. Where impacts are unavoidable, appropriate measures are implemented to minimize and mitigate them. Such measures are being considered in detail in the ESIA and described in the Environmental and Social Management Plan (ESMP) which will form an important part of it. The ESIA will also include a Natura2000 compatibility assessment, which will develop special mitigation measures, if needed, to protect the conservation targets of the Natura 2000 areas affected. Construction will take into account sensitive times, such as bird breeding.

Is there a safety distance around the tank farms where construction will not be permitted?

Generally a 50m safety strip is foreseen around the tank farm fence line. Within this safety strip no third-party construction is permitted. On top of that, the relevant Bulgarian and Greek regulations will be applied. The Bulgarian regulations stipulate a 200m protection zone around the tank farm.

In Bulgaria the tank-farm is located next to the Lukoil Neftochim refinery and in Greece next to an Industrial Zone.

What will happen in case of a fire at the tank farm?

A fire fighting system will be installed capable of fighting full surface tank fire. Tank bunds with special ground protection are sized for full containment of tank volume in case of leakage due to rupture of a tank. Intrusion protection systems are foreseen to prevent third party damage within the tank farm.

Where does the oil arrive in Burgas, where will the tank farm be located?

After examining various alternatives and following a series of consultations with the Bulgarian environmental and other competent authorities, TBP is favoring the Jetty solution located close to the Port of Rosenets - an industrial area - which would allow for bundling with the existing oil transportation infrastructure.
From there the connection to the proposed tank farm location in Kameno Municipality next to the Lukoil Neftochim Refinery runs through Burgas Municipality mostly in parallel to the existing oil pipelines.

Does the pipeline route cross the National Park of Dadia Forest?

Yes, the preferred route crosses the north-eastern edge of the National Park in the area of Soufli, avoiding any of the core area of the forest. Meetings with the Dadia Forest Management Authority and NGO’s have been and will continue to be held to discuss the very best route option to ensure that the impacts to Dadia Forest are minimized.

Are you planning to build a refinery in Alexandroupolis?

Absolutely not.

As the pipeline will be crossing rivers, what is being done to take river level fluctuations into consideration?

The pipeline will be laid at a minimum depth of 2-3 m within the river bed.

For rivers with highly increased erosion and scour potential a detailed design will be performed within next project phase. The basis for the scour calculation will be the 100 year flood occurrence records.

As far as possible, we will try to avoid laying the pipeline within flood plains.

The main spill control measure employed at river crossings and floodplains is the use of closely spaced Block Valve Stations (BVSs). BVSs serve to isolate sections of the pipeline in the case of an emergency with the objective of minimizing the volume of oil that could spill from a rupture. They are usually spaced around 10-20 km apart, however in sensitive areas, such as river floodplains, a much closer spacing is employed. The number and location of block valves has been selected based on route profile and a Quantified Risk Assessment. Block valves are full bore, double block and bleed ball valves, welded end and direct buried without aboveground bypass. BVSs are built below ground in a concrete pit, the local equipment room is installed above ground, the structure is surrounded by a fence.

In case of a rupture, the block valves are closed, thus isolating the section of the pipeline where the damage has occurred. The oil is emptied from this section and the damage is repaired.

What methods are being put in place to manage and prevent corrosion?

There will be two systems in place to reduce corrosion: one active and one passive. The passive system involves coating the pipes with a 3-layer polyethylene-based coating, while the active system is a so called “cathodic protection system” which sets a small electrical potential to the pipeline in order to avoid chemical corrosion reactions. This has no adverse environmental affect. Moreover, gauges, referred to as Intelligent PIGs (Pipeline Integrity Gauges) are sent down the pipe on a regular basis to sensor any corrosion.

What is the data on the frequency of accidents along pipelines not associated with terrorism?

Two thirds of all pipeline accidents are a result of either excavations or construction work near the pipeline not announced to the company. The other third is caused by corrosion. To minimize such risks, following measures will be taken:

  • The land use plans will be updated with the pipeline route to guide local administrations in making decisions on third party building permits and providing oversight on third party construction.

  • The land register will include the building restrictions for each parcel as necessary.

  • A clearly visible warning tape will be buried with the pipeline to issue warning during excavation works.

  • Regular pipeline inspections will be undertaken by running sensor gauges (so-called intelligent PIGs) through the pipe to check for possible defects and corrosion.

  • The pipeline will be monitored 24-hours from a Control centre via the SCADA System, and any abnormal parameters will be indicated by an alarm. There will be a program for regular inspection of the right-of-way by helicopter over flight in areas which are not sensitive for birds, as well as by on-the-ground inspection.

How long will the pipeline take to construct?

The construction period for the whole project including tankfarms, pipeline and offshore facilities will last approximately 2 years. The pipeline will take about 1,5 years to construct. The average section length which can be constructed per day is a maximum of around 600m.

Will TBP buy the land and at what price?

For the pipeline, TBP will agree a land easement (servitude) contract with the landowners, giving TBP the right to lay the pipeline and access the pipeline route whenever necessary. This will not change the ownership of the land. The owner remains the same. However, the easement contract will specify land use restrictions for the owner within the safety strip of the pipeline and will provide access rights for the pipeline operator. A monetary compensation for the long term easement (servitude) of the land will be agreed.

TBP will endeavor to purchase land for aboveground fixed installations through negotiated settlements with the land owners considering land value and local land prices. Expropriation is only the final option if no settlement can be reached.

Will I receive compensation if the pipeline crosses my land? What compensation will a landowner receive for construction damage?

Landowners or respective users will receive damage compensation for losses related to construction or maintenance, including any unanticipated or accidental damage by contractors.

Compensation will be proper and fair and in accordance with the legislation and in line with international practice and standards.

There will be 2 types of compensation: the first will be a yearly compensation to cover loss of crops based on the market value of the crops – this can be extended to 2 years if needed; the second will cover the permanent loss of trees. These amounts will be determined by the prefectural board and through legal proceedings.

How wide is the strip of land that will be affected?

Under normal site conditions, the width of the temporary working strip during the construction of the main pipeline will be 32 m. It can be reduced, however, to 20 m when crossing sensitive areas (for example forests).

What is being done about the problem of land mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) along the route as a result of military action?

In Greece input from the Ministry of Defense (MoD) had been requested regarding UXO. If anyone else has information on the location of unexploded ordinance then this knowledge would be welcomed by TBP. The MoD is aware of locations where a risk of UXO exists, but this information is not mapped. There will be people from the MoD responsible for clearing the pipeline route if needed.

In Bulgaria, the issue has been addressed, too.

When will TBP discuss land issues (acquisition and compensation) with landowners?

TBP will approach the landowners once the actual footprint of the project installations is determined. This generally occurs during the Detailed Design stage.

What will happen if a landowner does not want his/her land to be used?

In Bulgaria: In January 2009 the project received the status of “Project of National Interest” by Cabinet Decision. As such, in case no agreement with the landowner can be reached after 5 attempts, the project could, as a last resort, apply for application of eminent domain. However, as a general policy the project is aiming at negotiated settlements in mutual agreement with the land owners.

In Greece: The owner has no right to stall or deny project execution, once approval has been given for the exact pipeline route based on the detailed drawings. However, the owner is still legally protected – he/she can appeal for the unit price (which is defined by the Prefectural committee) and/or subsequently, if the reinstatement is not done properly, as well as if the route significantly reduces the value of the property (i.e. divides it in two) for instance.

What safety measures are in place?

There are a number of safety measures in place to prevent accidents and reduce the risk of leakage:

  • Patrols by helicopters that will fly over stretches of the pipeline on a regular basis; it should be noted that areas sensitive to birds will be avoided;

  • Patrols by car and/or foot as appropriate along the pipeline route;

  • Block Valves spaced around 20 km apart, but closer in sensitive areas such as rivers. They can be used to isolate sections of the pipeline;

  • The PIG (Pipeline Integrity Gauge) which travels along the pipeline identifying problems such as small cracks or dents;

  • The automated Leak Detection System – which registers any change in pressure;

  • The pipeline is made of high quality steel that is covered with 3-layer polyethylene-based coating to minimize the risk of damage;

  • Cathodic Protection.

If there is a leakage, what will the response be?

Accidents leading to leakages are very rare. Most accidents occur through accidental damage by third parties, such as farmers. However, in case of any pipeline damage, the associated drop in pressure will be registered immediately by the pipeline safety systems and a response will be initiated: first the block valves will be activated to immediately isolate the damaged section of the pipeline. The isolated section will then be emptied of oil by pumping the oil into the next section. Then the damaged piece of pipe will be removed and replaced by new pipe. Any spilled oil will be cleaned up. Oiled soil will be excavated and transported away for appropriate offsite disposal.

Do you have an emergency response plan; does this link to the civil response plan?

An Emergency Response Plan (ERP) will be developed by TBP addressing all possible scenarios. This plan will be discussed with the relevant competent authorities at required levels and consider inter-linkages with the civil response plan in both Greece and Bulgaria as well as equipment requirements etc.

In case of a leakage what about the ground water?

Contamination of ground water could be a potentially serious problem if not contained. Therefore, crossing of aquifers which are used for potable water extraction is avoided where possible. In areas with a high groundwater table BVS have been located more close in order to reduce the pollution in case of spill. Crossings of water courses are subject to special design (e.g. deeper burial depth, scour protection, etc) for added protection.

How many permanent jobs will be available for operation?

The demand for workers during operation cannot be detailed at present.

On the marine side there is likely to be a significant amount of employment opportunities due to the need for vessel crews and reliefs as well as harbor personnel and mooring masters. This could mean work for a least 200 – 300 people.

Will local firms be able to participate in construction?

TBP will request from the EPC contractor that local employment and procurement opportunities are made publicly known in the project area in order to provide local opportunities. Specifics will be defined in the Environmental and Social Management Plan (ESMP) which will be part of the ESIA. There are likely to be local procurement opportunities in relation to provision of food, water and accommodation for the contractors as well. However, precise details of these opportunities are not yet known.

How will the project impact coastal fisheries and fish nursery areas?

At the moment we are collecting as much information as we can on the coastal fisheries and fish nursery areas. In the ESIA we will evaluate the potential impact of both construction and operation of the pipeline and the SPMs on these fisheries and fish nursery areas.

Will there be any restrictions to fishing activities around the marine lines and the SPMs?

The marine lines will be trenched and buried. It will be possible to continue fishing activities there. However, there will be an exclusion zone around the SPMs and the anchoring areas where fishing will certainly be prohibited.

Will the fishermen be compensated?

In the ESIA we are assessing the impacts to the fishermen. Following from the results of this assessment, we will discuss appropriate compensation measures.

How big will the tankers be?

Bulgaria: Tankers foreseen to deliver oil to the pipeline system in Burgas are of the Suezmax type. They are around double the size of the Aframax tankers presently servicing the Lukoil Terminal Rosenets.

Greece: The tankers shall range from Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) size to Suezmax size and Aframax.

What about tanker collisions on the approach to the SPMs? Who will be responsible for oil spill contingency/clean-up?

The possibility of collision between tankers while approaching/departing from the SPM shall be minimized by an accurate Traffic control system and by the issue of internal rules of the road. TBP have committed to developing a detailed oil spill contingency plan for their operations. This will include sourcing specialist spill response equipment and vessels, and providing trained responders. TBP will also identify an internationally experienced spill response organization that they can call on for additional resources, personnel and expertise in the event of a major spill.

Can you give us statistics of accidents at other SPMs in Europe and worldwide?

There are no statistics of major accidents at any SPMs worldwide.

How are you going to protect beaches, the bays and the delta in Bulgaria and Greece from oil spills?

The protection of the beaches and the delta will be dealt with by the Oil Spill Response Plan.

How is the Project considering oil spill risk?

Oil spill risk at both the SPMs and along the pipeline has been considered during the site selection/routing stage and is now being considered in more detail during the ESIA.

What Oil Spill Response Modeling have you done? What are the results?

To date Preliminary Oil Spill Modeling was undertaken to support pre-selection of the most feasible SPM locations. This was done by an internationally recognized company – Oil Spill Response Limited – who are based in Southampton (UK). The results of the models showed that the there will be adequate time for intervention, based on the presumption that support vessels with oil spill control equipment and divers will be on permanent standby near the SPMs during loading operations. The Oil Spill Emergency Response Plan will indicate the number and type of vessels that will always be present at the Offshore Terminal, the equipment that will be stowed on board, the rules for the deployment and the type and frequency of the training exercises/drills that shall be performed.

In case of an accident, approximately how long will it take for the oil spill to reach the coast?

Oil spill modeling is currently underway to support the ESIA in identifying which areas of the coastline are at risk and how long it would take for oil to reach these areas. The results will be evaluated in the ESIA.

In case of an oil spill, how will tourist businesses and fisheries be compensated?

Bulgarian and EU regulations will apply and liability and compensation issues will be included in the Host Government Agreement between TBP and the Bulgarian Government.

What would happen in the case of an oil spill?

The oil spill contingency plan will be activated immediately. The plan will clearly set out the mobilization and notification procedure, responsibilities and the sequence of actions. An inventory of the type of equipment that should be used to respond to oil spills of different sizes, types and locations will be included, too. For the marine facilities at Burgas and Alexandroupolis, oil spill response equipment will include response boats equipped with booms and skimmers, as well as storage facilities for recovered oil. In addition, oil dispersants are available as a back-up method of environmental protection following an offshore oil spill (dispersants only to be used after approval by regulatory authorities). Regular emergency training will ensure that all personnel remain familiar with the implementation of the plan.

Will there be any minor oil spills due to the normal unloading operations? What will be the maximum possible quantities?

There will not be any minor oil spills during normal unloading operations. If a spill occurs, it will be an abnormal event and the oil spill contingency plan will be initiated.

What are the fines for large oil spills and who will pay?

The primary mechanism for compensation is via the ship owner’s Protection and Indemnity (P&I) club, and if the limit of liability for that fund is exceeded, additional compensation is available from the International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds (IOPC Funds). The IOPC Funds are part of an international regime of liability and compensation for oil pollution damage caused by oil spills from tankers. Under the regime, the owner of a tanker is liable to pay compensation up to a certain limit for oil pollution damage following an escape of persistent oil from their ship. If that amount does not cover all the admissible claims, further compensation is available from the 1992 Fund if the damage occurs in a State which is a Member of that Fund. Additional compensation may also be available from the Supplementary Fund if the State is a Member of that Fund as well (see www.iopcfund.org for more information). All three States – Russia, Greece and Bulgaria – are Members of the Fund. The third source of compensation and cost recovery would be through legal action and private claims.

Will there be a restricted zone around the SPMs regarding small/big vessels? What restrictions will be applied?

Yes, for safety reasons there will be a restricted zone with a total area of around 15-18 km2. This includes the restricted zone around both the SPMs and the anchoring area. No unauthorized vessel may enter this zone and all other marine uses are prohibited here.

Do the owners of properties along the coast need special insurance against oil spills?

No. TBP Marine Facilities insurance will cover damage to properties due to oil spills.

Will there be any full-time/part-time personnel responsible for operations at the SPMs? If yes, how many people?

The Mooring Master, his deputy and staff and the Mooring Gang will be responsible for ensuring that operations at the SPMs are in line with the Terminal Regulations. These are around 15-16 people who will be supported by further personnel. They will be permanently based at the Alexandroupolis and Burgas Ports respectively and will shuttle to the SPMs and anchoring areas.

How frequently will regular maintenance checks be performed on the SPMs?

Maintenance checks will be performed in strict accordance with the Maintenance Manuals of the Suppliers.