Russia says Bulgaria to complete pipeline stretch of TurkStream by 2020

Gazprom’s TurkStream gas pipeline, which will connect Russia and Turkey, runs through the Black Sea and Bulgaria, where there are concerns that it might fail to meet its forecasted completion date. (AFP)
Updated 21 October 2019

Russia says Bulgaria to complete pipeline stretch of TurkStream by 2020

  • Bulgaria last month struck a $1.2 billion deal with Saudi-based Arkad to complete the 474 km pipeline as early as 2020

SOFIA: Bulgaria has promised to complete its stretch of the TurkStream gas pipeline by 2020 as planned, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday, trying to tackle skepticism about the timescale of the project.

Last month Bulgaria signed a €1.1 billion ($1.2 billion) contract with Saudi-led group Arkad to build the 474 km pipeline across its territory.

Sofia hopes the whole pipeline, which Bulgaria has dubbed Balkan Stream, will become operational as early as 2020, but given that the contract with Saudi company was signed only in September, some industry officials are doubtful of the timeline.

Lavrov, speaking in Moscow at a briefing with his Bulgarian counterpart Ekaterina Zaharieva, said he was given assurances that the second part of TurkStream would be completed as planned.

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Last week, Russia’s Gazprom began filling the first part of the TurkStream pipeline, which runs via the Black Sea, with gas.

“The partners have underscored that the work will be finished on time, by 2020,” Lavrov said.

Russia, which is building TurkStream to bypass Ukraine to the south, has said its second portion, with an annual capacity of 15.75 billion cubic meters, will pass via Bulgaria to central Europe.

Earlier on Monday, Bulgaria opened the 11 km pipeline that links its gas transport network with Turkey as part of its push to transport Russian natural gas from TurkStream to central Europe and inspected the laying of pipes Arkad has started in northwestern Bulgaria.

The pipeline stretch is part of Bulgaria’s plans to link its southern border with Turkey to its western frontier with Serbia and provide a link to the Russia-backed TurkStream twin pipeline to Serbia, Hungary and Austria.

Last week, Russia’s Gazprom began filling the first part of the TurkStream pipeline, which runs via the Black Sea, with gas.

Moscow plans to launch the first part of the pipeline, with an annual capacity of 15.75 billion cubic meters, by the end of the year.

Speaking to officials at the opening in southern Bulgaria, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said Balkan Stream was also a political highway ensuring peace along with its economic benefits.

Serbian Energy Minister Aleksandar Antic, who attended the inspection of construction works in northwestern Bulgaria, said Serbia will be ready with the pipeline on its territory by the end of the year and gas can flow once Bulgaria completes its part of the work.


Bank jobs go as HSBC and Emirates NBD reduce costs

Updated 15 November 2019

Bank jobs go as HSBC and Emirates NBD reduce costs

  • Others have also reduced headcount amid economic downturn and property market weakness

DUBAI: HSBC Holdings has laid off about 40 bankers in the UAE and Emirates NBD is cutting around 100 jobs, as banks in the Arab world’s second-biggest economy reduce costs.

The cuts come amid weak economic growth, especially in Dubai, which is suffering from a property downturn.

HSBC’s redundancies came after the London-based bank reported a sharp fall in earnings and warned of a costly restructuring, as interim CEO Noel Quinn seeks to tackle its problems head-on.

HSBC has about 3,000 staff in the UAE, part of a nearly 10,000-strong workforce in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey.

The cuts at Dubai’s largest lender Emirates NBD came in consumer sales and liabilities, one source said, while a second played down the significance of the move.

HSBC and Emirates NBD declined to comment.

“The cuts are part of cost cutting and rationalizing to drive efficiencies in a challenging market,” the second source said.

Other banks have also reduced staff this year. UAE central bank data shows local banks laid off 446 people in the 12 months until the end of September. Foreign banks added staff in the same period.

Staff at local banks account for over 80 percent of the 35,518 banking employees in the country.

The merger between Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Union Commercial Bank and Al Hilal Bank saw hundreds of redundancies.

Commercial Bank International (CBI) said it would offer voluntary retirement to employees in September, which sources said saw over 100 departures. Standard Chartered, too, cut over 100 jobs in the UAE in September.

Rating agency Fitch warned in September a weakening property market would put more pressure on the UAE’s banking sector.