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Apr 25, 2023 16:33 EEST
April 25 (SeeNews) - The gas transmission system operators (TSOs) of Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia, on Tuesday agreed with Azerbaijan's state-owned energy company SOCAR on additional volumes of Azeri natural gas to be delivered via their systems to the region and the wider Europe, Bulgarian president Rumen Radev said.
Ministers from the five countries signed a memorandum of understanding between Bulgartransgaz, Transgaz, FGSZ, Eurstream and SOCAR as part of the so-called Solidarity Ring initiative to promote energy cooperation in the context of the war in Ukraine, Radev said in a statement.
SOCAR also opened an office in Bulgaria's capital Sofia on Tuesday, ahead of schedule unveiled in March.
The memorandum is seen as an important step in future cooperation, including in projects relating to renewable energy sources and hydrogen.
The agreement comes on the same day when the European Union launched its joint gas purchasing platform, AggregateEU, and called on European companies to register their gas purchase needs in preparation to start injecting gas in storage sites for the next winter season.
Hungary is working on a long-term contract to receive 2 billion cubic metres (bcm) of natural gas per year from Azerbaijan, with pipelines in Southeast Europe key to transiting these deliveries, Hungarian minister of foreign affairs and trade, Peter Szijjarto, said earlier this month at the Budapest LNG summit.
Bulgaria already covers about a third of the volume of 3 bcm of gas it uses per year with supplies from Azerbaijan delivered through the Greece-Bulgaria interconnector. The gas link, which was commissioned in October, has had over 90% of its monthly capacity booked this year, its executive officer Teodora Georgieva told SeeNews earlier.
Azerbaijan delivers gas from the Shah Deniz field to Europe via the Trans-Anatolian natural gas pipeline (TANAP) to Turkey and to Greece, Albania, the Adriatic and Italy through its continuation, the Trans Adriatic pipeline (TAP), both part of the Southern Gas Corridor. In January, TAP, of which SOCAR owns 20%, began the incremental expansion of its capacity with the aim of delivering at least 20 bcm per year to the EU by 2027.
The Greece-Bulgaria interconnector, which is linked to TAP, is also planning to expand its capacity, to 5 bcm per year. Since December, it has also provided natural gas deliveries to Moldova.
As part of efforts to cut the EU's dependence on Russian fossil fuels, the European Commission agreed last year with Azerbaijan to explore ways to increase the supply of Azeri natural gas to Europe, from 8 bcm in 2022 to 12 bcm in 2023 and up to 20 bcm before the end of the decade.
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