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Dec 11, 2023 11:20 EEST
December 11 (SeeNews) - Serbia and Bulgaria have commissioned a new cross-border natural gas interconnector, which will ensure gas supply for eastern and central Serbia and beyond, to Central and Eastern Europe, the government in Belgrade said.
The interconnector, which will deliver natural gas from Azerbaijan to Serbia via Bulgaria, was inaugurated by the presidents of the three countries at the Trupale compressor station near Nis, with construction having taken just a year, the Serbian government said in a press release on Saturday.
Serbia, which currently receives its natural gas supplies from Russia, last month agreed with Azerbaijan to import 400 million cubic metres (mcm) of natural gas in order to diversify its energy sources.
The interconnector has a crucial role for the further gasification of the southern part of Serbia and cities that are extremely important for the economic development of the country, namely Nis, Pirot, Dimitrovgrad and Bela Palanka, Serbian energy and mining minister Dubravka Djedovic Handanovic said.
The project has a total value of 94 million euro ($101.2 million), according to Serbian state broadcaster RTS. Of that, 49 million euro was received in EU grants and 25 million euro as a loan from the European Investment Bank.
The interconnector will also grant Serbia and several other countries in the region access to the liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Alexandroupolis, Greece, and to Bulgaria's Chiren underground gas storage facility, set to be completed by the end of 2024, Bulgarian president Rumen Radev said in a separate statement. The construction of the Alexandroupolis terminal, in which Bulgaria holds a 20% stake, is expected to be completed by March 2024. In return, the reverse flow capacity of the Interconnector Bulgaria-Serbia will ensure Bulgaria could receive additional natural gas from Western Europe.
With a length of 170 kilometres, the Bulgaria-Serbia gas link has a capacity to carry 1.8 billion cubic metres (bcm) of natural gas per year, and interplays with the Southern Gas Corridor. The interconnector runs from the western Bulgarian town of Novi Iskar to the Serbian city of Nis. The pipeline is 62-km long on the Bulgarian side. Serbia completed the construction of its section last week.
Bulgaria has already diversified away from Russian gas, largely thanks to the imports of Caspian natural gas and regasified LNG via the 3 bcm/year Greek-Bulgarian gas link, which was commissioned in October 2022 and is already working towards a capacity increase to 5 bcm/year.
($ = 0.9291 euro)
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