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Sep 11, 2023 13:28 EEST
September 11 (SeeNews) - ICGB, the operator of the Greece-Bulgaria natural gas pipeline designed to help Sofia wean off Russian gas, reported significant interest from gas traders during the initial non-binding phase of market testing.
Traders expressed a keen interest in booking up to 4 billion cubic metres (bcm) per year in additional capacity for the upcoming gas years.
"The market interest for a few consecutive gas years is nearly two times higher than our initial expectations. While for now these indications are non-binding for the shippers, this is a great first step towards a potential expansion of the IGB pipeline’s capacity from 3 bcm/y to 5 bcm/y," ICGB executive officers George Satlas and Teodora Georgieva said in a press release on Friday.
ICGB launched the tentative market tests in July, less than a year after the interconnector became operational in October 2022, ensuring Bulgaria could diversify its energy sources and replace Russian gas with Caspian gas or LNG supplies via Greek ports.
The gas link's current total capacity is already booked at over 82% for the 2023/2024 gas year, ICGB also said.
The 182-kilometre pipeline (113 miles) was constructed by a joint venture of Bulgaria's state energy company BEH and Greece's gas utility DEPA and Italy's Edison.
The facility provides natural gas for Bulgaria under a long-term contract with Azerbaijan, covering some 52% of Bulgaria's consumption needs for this month. Its operation is also seen to solidify the country's position as a gas transit market, as part of both the Southern and the Vertical Gas Corridors and thanks to its interconnection with Greek gas grid operator DESFA and the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which supplies Caspian gas through Albania via the Adriatic to Italy. Capacity expansion will also be necessary to accommodate additional flows of regasified LNG once the floating terminal at the Greek port of Alexandroupolis comes into operation next year.
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