The Slovak government is due to discuss development of the proposed oil pipeline between Slovakia and Austria in September 2011, Robert Nemcsics from Schwechat Pipeline GmbH told journalists on Tuesday, July 19.
"We expect that a document will be submitted to the government by September and that it will contain all arguments – the pros and cons of this project. The government will decide how, when and in what way the project will be carried out in the end," said Nemcsics, as quoted by the TASR newswire. According to Nemcsics, the Austrian government acted very quickly once the memorandum between Slovakia and Austria on the oil pipeline link was signed, and had effectively arranged the whole route, including buying the land and all other technical measures, within a year. "So on the Austrian side, this project is practically 100-percent ready to be carried out," said Nemcsics.
The problem came when representatives of the last Slovak government started promoting the shortest possible route and the fastest possible way of construction, across Žitný Ostrov (under which lies the biggest drinking-water reservoir in central Europe), Nemcsics stated. This caused a wave of protests among environmental activists that he said was to a certain extent justified. He commented that it would be "rather bold" to lay an oil pipeline through the area.
When the new management of Slovak oil-transport company Transpetrol took up their posts and after the commitment in the present government’s official programme to change the route of the pipeline so that it would not go through Žitný Ostrov, "very intensive work started [which was] also very rational in the sense that new options for linking Bratislava and Schwechat began to be sought". Economy Minister Juraj Miškov said that the oil pipeline linking Slovakia and Austria is a "very good project, as the Druzhba pipeline [linking Russia and Slovakia] is only used at 50 percent of its capacity at the moment".
"The basic task now is to circumvent Žitný Ostrov," Peter Roth, a member of Transpetrol’s board of directors, announced. Nemcsics remarked that the pipeline's routing through the area would in fact be harmless to nature and pointed out that there is already crude oil refinery in the locality, representing a huge environmental risk. The junction point was originally planned to be in the locality between Jarovce district in Slovakia and Austria's Kittsee. The SITA newswire quoted Nemcsics as saying that the Austrian partners would also accept other points of connection. They were notified of the change in routing after the present government assumed its tasks and the two partners are seeking a common solution. The Austrian partners pledged to allow reverse flow of crude oil in the pipeline if necessary. Roth asserted that the project could generate income for the state budget while its potential halt would not be good for the country's energy security. The cost of the pipeline is projected to be €90-150 million. It could be completed in three to five years, depending on the route picked by the government.
"Even after Tuesday's statements by BSP Bratislava-Schwechat Pipeline, the civil association 'No to the Oil Pipeline Via Žitný Ostrov' stands by its position. We still maintain that the project promoted by BSP isn't favourable for Slovakia strategically or energy-wise," said the association's chair Liliana Rástocká, as quoted by TASR. BSP Bratislava-Schwechat Pipeline GmbH is owned by Transpetrol (74 percent) and Austrian refiner OMV (26 percent). The agreement to set up a joint company with the aim of building and operating a new pipeline between Bratislava and Schwechat was signed in Schwechat on December 18, 2003.
Sources: TASR, SITA
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
20. Jul 2011 at 14:00