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Mar 13, 2023 11:52 EEST
March 13 (SeeNews) - The State Oil Company of the Republic of Azerbaijan, or Socar, will open an office in the Bulgarian capital Sofia in May, in a sign of strengthening relations between the two countries in the energy sector, Bulgarian president Rumen Radev said.
In the coming months, as a result of strong interest expressed by Azerbaijan, talks will be initiated between the two countries' heads of state on Azerbaijan potentially joining the Solidarity Ring (String), a Bulgarian initiative proposed to the European Commission in October 2022, Radev said in a statement on Saturday.
As part of efforts to diversify European energy sources away from Russian gas, String foresees the supply of additional quantities of natural gas from the Caspian Sea to Europe via the Southern Gas Corridor and using the existing transmission infrastructure of Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia. Bulgaria is linked to the Southern Gas Corridor via the Greece-Bulgaria interconnector (IGB), which went live in October last year, allowing for additional quantities of Caspian gas to be imported into the country at lower prices compared to previous Russian deliveries.
Bulgaria has a contract for the delivery of 1 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas per year from Socar. The IGB has a maximum total capacity of 3 bcm annually, with the potential to increase this volume up to 5 bcm per year. Thanks to the IGB, Bulgaria facilitated the transit of 4.8 billion cubic metres (bcm) of natural gas to Hungary in 2022.
Last year, state transmission operators from Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Hungary renewed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the goal of developing a bi-directional Vertical Gas Corridor in the region.
Azerbaijan produced 46.7 bcm of natural gas in 2022, an increase of 6.6% year-on-year, with domestic consumption rising by an annual 4.4% to 13.5 bcm, Socar reported earlier this year.
In July 2022, the European Commission and Azerbaijan reached a strategic partnership agreement that will see the country nearly double its natural gas exports to the EU to at least 20 bcm per year by 2027 from about 12 million bcm in 2022.
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