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MINISTRY CALLS CLAIMS ON JOINT AUSTRIAN OIL PROJECT MISLEADING

State spends millions on unwanted pipeline, civic group says

CITIZENS protesting against the construction of the Bratislava-Schwechat oil pipeline claim the state has already invested millions of euros into the project.

CITIZENS protesting against the construction of the Bratislava-Schwechat oil pipeline claim the state has already invested millions of euros into the project.

“Around €12 million has been invested in the oil-pipeline project, with the Slovak side covering €9.25 million,” Miroslav Dragun of the civic association ‘No to the Pipeline’ told the TASR newswire. “This money was supposed to be used to buy up land for the pipeline on the area leading up to the feeder point in Kittsee [Austria]."

Dragun cited statements made by Slovak oil-transport company Transpetrol published on the energie-portal.sk website on July 30. The planned project should interconnect the Druzhba pipeline with the Austrian pipelines ending across the border in Schwechat. The length of the pipeline could range between 80 and 150 kilometres depending on the route, and the Slovak ministry has estimated the cost at €70 to €140 million.

The Economy Ministry has rejected allegations made by the ‘No to the Pipeline’ civic association, ministry spokesperson Stanislav Jurikovič told TASR. Part of the previous expenditures went for a feasibility study and related technical, geological and economic projects, according to Jurikovič.
“The main part of the resources from the aforementioned sum worth approximately €8.5 million went mainly on buying off land and rights … in Austria, via which as much as two-thirds of the oil pipeline is slated to be routed,” said the spokesman, as quoted by TASR, noting there is no final set route and the project is only at the technical-routing stage.
The route of the pipeline on the Slovak side remains a problem as the proposed routes cross either Bratislava or protected areas, including Žitný Ostrov, the biggest drinking-water reservoir in central Europe. One of proposed routes goes also through Bratislava’s most populous borough of Petržalka - either under the Dolnozemská Road or Einsteinova Street, TASR wrote.
The project was conceived by BSP Bratislava - Schwechat Pipeline, a company launched in 2003 as a joint venture to build and operate the new pipeline. The Slovak company Transpetrol, involved in the transportation and storage of crude oil, holds a 74-percent share in the company, while Austrian OMV holds 26 percent, the company writes on its website.

The project has so far met with much opposition among citizen groups, but ministry is saying that "over-enthusiastic" activities are creating a misleading image of the whole project. Economy Ministry officials recently said the pipeline is a strategic project of European importance. The association claims ministry thereby violated a European Commission regulation on transparency, which requires that investors should provide information on any planned projects at public discussions during the preparatory phases of a project.

“Not a single discussion has taken place. Moreover, the ministry is still keeping secret all the documents concerning the project," Dragun said, as quoted by TASR. The ministry hasn't presented any economic or technical analysis of the project to date, he said, even as Transpetrol told energie-portal.sk that the project is almost ready for carrying out.

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