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Bulgaria-Greece gas link receives final operational permits

Sep 29, 2022, 10:02:14 AMArticle by Antonia Kokalova-Gray
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September 29 (SeeNews) - The Bulgaria-Greece natural gas pipeline (IGB) has obtained the final permits for use on the territory of both countries, paving the way for its commissioning on October 1, developer and independent transmission operator ICGB said.

Bulgaria-Greece gas link receives final operational permits

The gas link, which will allow the diversification of gas supply to Bulgaria, Greece and the wider Central and Eastern European (CEE) region, received Act 16 in Bulgaria and an operational licence in Greece, ICGB said in separate statements on Wednesday.

In Bulgaria, the permit was issued after coordinated work with 27 institutions, according to ICGB which late last year obtained a 35-year licence for natural gas transmission on Bulgaria's territory.

"This document allows us to start commercial activities right on time for the new heating season, which was the top priority of all parties involved in the implementation of the interconnector," ICGB executive officers Teodora Georgieva and Georgios Satlas said.

The gas link will allow additional gas imports to Bulgaria under a 1 billion bcm/year contract with Azerbaijan as well as the flow of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from terminals in Greece and Turkey.

IGB's operation is expected to bring the wholesale gas price in Bulgaria down by 32% month-on-month in October to around 240 levs ($118.52/122.71 euro) per MWh, the CEO of public supplier Bulgargaz Denitsa Zlateva said on Wednesday.

The 220 million euro ($212.5 million), 182-kilometre gas link ties the Greek gas transmission system in the area of Komotini to the Bulgarian gas grid near Stara Zagora, directly connecting existing pipelines to the Southern Gas Corridor. Its current capacity is 3 billion cubic metres (bcm) per year, with 1.57 bcm/year already allocated under 25-year agreements with gas distributors. ICGB is preparing to launch auctions for the remaining capacity once the pipeline goes live.

The construction of the IGB, a strategic facility which has been 13 years in the making, started in early 2020 and was completed in July. Against the backdrop of the Ukraine war, its commissioning has been of utmost importance for Bulgaria. The latter has been at pains to diversify its gas supply since Russia's Gazprom halted deliveries in late April, despite a contract valid until December.

Romanian prime minister Nicolae Ciuca said earlier this year that the pipeline will enable Romania to supply natural gas to Ukraine and Moldova.

In February, Serbia started building a 1.8 billion bcm link to Bulgaria's gas transmission system, which is due for completion in September 2023. Serbia, which has been wholly reliant on Russia for gas supplies, opened negotiations with Azerbaijan in the summer to explore potential deliveries for next year.

(1 euro = 1.95583 levs)

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