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Sep 11, 2023 16:11 EEST
September 11 (SeeNews) - Bulgarian natural gas grid operator Bulgartransgaz said that it agreed with peers from Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia to establish a joint working group by September 15 so as to explore ways of speeding up the binding market test phase for capacity expansion projects along the so-called Vertical Gas Corridor.
The route will enable bidirectional gas flows from Greece to northern Europe, through Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary.
Non-binding market tests pointed to "extremely high" interest in capacity at interconnection points (IP) along the route, with potential demand for the stations at Kulata/Sidirokastro between Bulgaria and Greece and Kardam/Negru Voda between Bulgaria and Romania twice as high as current capacities, Bulgartransgaz said in a press release following a working meeting hosted by Greek gas grid operator DESFA last week.
Bulgartransgaz will work together with DESFA, Romania’s Transgaz, Hungary’s FGSZ, Eustream of Slovakia, Alexandroupolis floating LNG terminal developer Gastrade, and ICGB, the operator of the Greece-Bulgaria natural gas pipeline, a key part of the Vertical Gas Corridor.
"We plan to expand the infrastructure so as to increase the capacity of the IP Kulata/Sidirokastro and Kardam/Negru Voda, after carrying out the necessary procedures in compliance with EU legislation. This is in synergy with the capacity increase of IP Stara Zagora. These projects are planned to be ready for the upcoming low carbon transition. They could be used for hydrogen and low carbon gases," Bulgatransgaz executive director Vladimir Malinov said.
The operators plan to hold a series of meetings, starting in Sofia in October 2023, DESFA said in a separate statement. The companies have also agreed to coordinate actions on making the necessary investments and finalising the allocation of future transmission capacity through their networks by 2024.
The cooperation is intended to guarantee the flow of natural gas along the bi-directional pipeline, and in particular from south to north, at a time when Europe is looking to ensure a sufficient and diverse gas supply while addressing supply bottlenecks. Increasing the existing capacity could mean more gas flowing to countries like Moldova.
In December last year, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Hungary renewed a memorandum of understanding on the Vertical Gas Corridor, first signed in 2017, as the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis highlighted European energy security and diversification.
ICGB said in an earlier statement that in recent non-binding market tests, it received trader interest in securing up to 4 billion cubic metres (bcm) per year in additional capacity for the next few gas years.
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