Bulgaria signs up Saudi-led group for TurkStream gas pipeline extension

Bulgaria’s gas pipeline contract with Arkad came after a Bulgarian court cleared legal obstacles to the $1.2 billion deal. (Reuters)
Updated 21 September 2019

Bulgaria signs up Saudi-led group for TurkStream gas pipeline extension

SOFIA: Bulgaria’s state gas company signed a €1.1 billion ($1.2 billion) contract on Wednesday with Saudi-led group Arkad to build a gas pipeline to carry mainly Russian natural gas.

The Balkan country is rushing to build the 474 km pipeline linking its southern border with Turkey to its western border with Serbia to secure a link to the Russian-backed TurkStream pipeline to Serbia, Hungary and Austria.

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

“This is the so-called Balkan Stream,” Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said at signing of the contract by state gas group Bulgartransgaz.

“We will win from transit fees, this pipeline will remain Bulgarian once it is paid off and mainly our neighbors from North Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary will have alternative gas.”

Borissov said 90 percent of the pipes for the project had already been delivered to Bulgarian ports and Sofia wants to have the first 308 km of the pipeline ready by January, a timetable which many industry observers say will be
extremely hard to achieve.

Borissov said that the pipeline, along with a gas interconnector with Greece will keep Bulgaria on the gas map and not be bypassed by all major routes in southeastern Europe.

The Arkad-led group contract comes a day before representatives of the EU, Russia and Ukraine meet to discuss the future of Russian gas transit to Europe via Ukraine when a 10-year deal expires in January.

The contract became possible after a Bulgarian court cleared legal obstacles and brought to an end a tussle between Arkad and a consortium of a Luxembourg-based unit of Russia’s pipe
maker TMK, Italy’s Bonatti and Germany’s Max Streicher.

Observers said that the court development was likely to mean that the two bidders had agreed to share the contract. 


Ivory Coast tourism attracts $5bn from Arab investors

Updated 22 October 2019

Ivory Coast tourism attracts $5bn from Arab investors

  • The tourism ministry said “a round table of investors in Dubai” expressed interest In Ivory Coast
  • The initiative, dubbed “Sublime Cote d’Ivoire” (Magnificent Ivory Coast), was launched in May

ABIDJAN: Ivory Coast announced Tuesday that Arab investors had pledged $5 billion to support its program to attract foreign tourists to the West African nation.
The tourism ministry said “a round table of investors in Dubai” on Sunday and Monday expressed interest In Ivory Coast and in total, the minister for tourism and leisure, Siandou Fofana, “enlisted from them pledges worth just over $5 billion” (4.49 billion euros).
Ivory Coast’s charm offensive in the United Arab Emirates included a delegation with recently retired star footballer Didier Drogba and A’Salfo, lead singer with the pop group Magic System, who gave two concerts.
The initiative, dubbed “Sublime Cote d’Ivoire” (Magnificent Ivory Coast), was launched in May.
“Our goal is to become the fifth biggest destination for tourism in Africa by 2025,” Fofana said in the ministry’s statement.
If objectives are reached, tourism would account for 12 percent of GDP compared with 5.5 percent today, and jobs in the tourism sector would grow from 270,000, as of 2016, to 365,000.
The economy today is hugely dependent on rural earnings, especially cacao and coffee.
The plan is to attract tourists to the remote west of the country, a region of unspoiled mountains and beaches.