November 30 (SeeNews) - Bulgaria's parliament adopted on Friday changes to the country's energy strategy, mandating gas transmission system operator Bulgartransgaz to start work, by the end of the year, on expanding the gas infrastructure system from the border with Turkey to the border with Serbia.
After a final decision on the investment project has been made, Bulgartransgaz will launch a public procurement procedure with an estimated value of 2.29 billion levs ($1.3 billion/1.2 billion euro), VAT excluded, for making the necessary expansions of Bulgaria's gas infrastructure system, according to the updated energy strategy published on the website of the parliament.
Works under the contract must be completed by the end of 2019. The final investment decision depends on successful signing of binding capacity allocation agreements under an Open Season procedure.
Bulgaria's government has received an official notification from Russia's Gazprom for participation in the market test, which practically means that the section of the TurkStream pipeline for transit of Russian natural gas to Europe will cross Bulgaria, Sofia-based media quoted Bulgarian energy minister Temenuzhka Petkova as saying in parliament on Friday.
In addition to using its existing gas transmission infrastructure Bulgaria will have to build a new gas pipeline of 484 km length to the border with Serbia, a new pipeline of 11 km length to the border with Turkey, as well as two compressor stations. Earlier this month, Bulgartransgaz said it invited companies to participate in Phase 3 of a market survey on the demand for new transmission capacity from the border of Turkey to the border of Serbia. The deadline for applications is December 10, 2018.
In addition to increasing the capacity for transit of natural gas on its territory, the updated energy strategy gives the green light to Bulgartransgaz to participate as a shareholder in the project for construction of a liquified natural gas (LNG) terminal near Greece's Aegean city of Alexandroupolis.
The Alexandroupolis LNG terminal project is planned to comprise an offshore floating unit for the reception, storage and re-gasification of LNG and a system of a subsea and an onshore gas transmission pipeline through which the natural gas will be shipped into the Greek national natural gas system.
The strategy also envisages the establishment of a gas exchange in Bulgaria, which will operate as a subsidiary of Bulgartransgaz, in relation to the planned Balkan gas hub project.
The Balkan gas hub project envisages building an EU-funded regional gas distribution centre near the Black Sea coast in Varna region to dispatch gas deliveries to the rest of Europe - to Greece, Romania, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia and, via those countries, to EU member states in central and western Europe, as well as to non-EU Serbia, Macedonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Gas can be fed into the hub from Russia, from Bulgaria's potential gas deposits in the Black Sea or, via interconnectors with Greece and Turkey, from the Caspian region or the Eastern Mediterranean, or from the Greek and Turkish LNG terminals, the Bulgarian government has said. The gas hub could also be supplied via an interconnector with Romania, which is estimated to have significant deposits in the Black Sea shelf.
(1 euro = 1.95583 levs)