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Published: November 19, 2007 ATHENS

Nov. 18 — Greeceand Turkey opened a $300 million pipeline on Sunday, creating an energy corridor that connects the rich natural gas fields in the Caspian Sea region to Europe, bypassing Russia and the volatile Middle East.


"This project will bring significant benefits both for Greece and Turkey," said Kostas Karamanlis, the Greek prime minister, who inaugurated the project with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It shows "we can live in harmony and both gain from it," Mr. Karamanlis said, shaking hands with Mr. Erdogan in a symbolic meeting on a bridge over the Evros River, which divides the countries.

The pipeline, which will use natural gas pumped into Turkey from the Shah Deniz field in Azerbaijan, will initially carry 250 million cubic meters of gas a year to Komotini, in northeastern Greece, from Karacabey, in western Turkey. Its capacity is expected to triple by 2012, when Poseidon, a 132-mile undersea Greece-Italy pipeline begins operation, forming the Southern Europe Gas Ring project.

"The project is extremely significant — and fundamentally political," said Julian Lee, a senior analyst with the Center for Global Energy Studies, a London-based research group. "It offers diversified supplies of energy to Europe without going through Russia — an objective encouraged by the United States."