Bulgaria picks Saudi-led group to build $1.2bn gas pipeline

A consortium led by Saudi Arabia’s Arkad Engineering will build a pipeline from Bulgaria’s border with Turkey to its frontier with Serbia. (Shutterstock)
Updated 03 April 2019
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Bulgaria picks Saudi-led group to build $1.2bn gas pipeline

  • The consortium between Saudi Arabia’s Arkad Engineering and a joint venture including Switzerland’s ABB offered the most economically advantageous tender for the 474 km pipeline
  • The group offered to complete the pipeline within 20 months for $1.2 billion, which Bulgartransgaz said was the lowest bid in the public tender

SOFIA: Bulgaria’s state gas network operator Bulgartransgaz on Wednesday chose a Saudi-led consortium to build a new pipeline through the country intended to hook up to Gazprom’s TurkStream project.
The consortium between Saudi Arabia’s Arkad Engineering and a joint venture including Switzerland’s ABB “had offered the most economically advantageous tender” for the 474 km (294-mile) pipeline to run from Bulgaria’s southeastern border with Turkey to its western border with Serbia, Bulgartransgaz said in a statement.
The group offered to complete the pipeline within 20 months for €1.1 billion ($1.2 billion), which Bulgartransgaz said was the lowest bid in the public tender.
The other bidder — a consortium of Italy’s Bonatti, Germany’s Max Streicher and Luxembourg-based Completions Development — offered a price more than the
€1.4 billion the government was ready to spend on the project.
Last November Bulgartransgaz announced plans to build the link in the hope of persuading Russian gas giant Gazprom to consider a link to its TurkStream pipeline through Bulgarian territory.
Bulgaria, which is heavily dependent on Russian gas for its domestic needs, will lose hefty transit fees when TurkStream becomes operational at the end of this year and Gazprom stops its gas deliveries to Turkey, Greece and Macedonia via Bulgaria in 2020.


US-China trade deal hopes grow as oil prices decline

Updated 19 June 2019
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US-China trade deal hopes grow as oil prices decline

  • Data suggested a smaller-than-expected fall in American crude inventories
  • Preparations underway for Donald Trump to meet Xi Jinping next week at the G20 summit in Osaka

LONDON: Oil prices declined on Wednesday as data suggested a smaller-than-expected fall in American crude inventories, as hopes for a US-China trade deal continue to grow.
Brent crude futures were down 51 cents at $61.72 a barrel.
US West Texas Intermediate crude fell 25 cents to $53.65 a barrel. On Tuesday, it had recorded its biggest daily rise since early January.
After weeks of swelling, US crude stocks fell by 812,000 barrels last week to 482 million, the American Petroleum Institute said on Tuesday, a smaller fall than the 1.1-million-barrel drop analysts had expected.
Official estimates on US crude stockpiles from the US government’s Energy Information Administration are due during afternoon trading.
US President Donald Trump offered some support, saying preparations were underway for him to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping next week at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, amid hopes a trade deal could be thrashed out between the two powers. Trump has repeatedly threatened China with tariffs since winning office in 2016.
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi also offered a boost, saying on Tuesday that he would ease policy again if inflation failed to accelerate.
Tensions remain high in the Middle East after last week’s tanker attacks. Fears of a confrontation between Iran and the US have mounted, with Washington blaming Tehran, which has denied any role.
Trump said he was prepared to take military action to stop Iran having a nuclear bomb but left open whether he would approve the use of force to protect Gulf oil supplies.
On Wednesday, oil markets shrugged off a rocket attack on a site in southern Iraq used by foreign oil companies.
“It is interesting to note that the crude oil futures market could not rally on hawks planting bombs in the Strait of Hormuz but could rally on doves planting quantitative easing,” Petromatrix’s Olivier Jakob said in a note.
“This is an oil market that doesn’t know how to react when an oil tanker blows up but knows how to react when the head of a central bank makes some noise.”
Members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries have agreed to meet on July 1, followed by a meeting with non-OPEC allies on July 2, after weeks of wrangling over dates.
OPEC and its allies will discuss whether to extend a deal on cutting 1.2 million barrels per day of production that runs out this month.