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Jul 04, 2023 13:15 EEST
July 4 (SeeNews) - ICGB, the operator of the Greece-Bulgaria natural gas interconnector (IGB), said on Tuesday it kicked off the initial, non-binding phase of market testing to explore the potential level of demand that would drive capacity expansion.
The two-year market assessment process, launched on July 3, will be split into a non-binding and a binding phase, with initial expressions of interest due by August 28, ICGB said in a press release.
The capacity expansion to 5 billion cubic metres (bcm) per year from the current 3 bcm, which will require as-yet unspecified additional investments, is seen to go in line with the planned launch of Greece's liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal at the Aegean port of Alexandroupolis. The two infrastructure systems are located close to each other and IGB can also offer capacity for regasified LNG. Gas transmission system operators (TSOs) of Bulgaria, Bulgartransgaz, and of Greece, DESFA, each own a 20% interest in the project company developing the Alexandroupolis terminal, which is expected to go live in 2024.
To gauge potential market demand, ICGB is working in tandem with Bulgartransgaz, DESFA, and the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), to which the gas link is also connected and which have also started the process at their end. The indications of demand by interested parties will be shared among all the TSOs.
"By enabling our interconnection point with DESFA and the LNG terminal in Alexandroupolis, we will effectively create a link between global LNG producers and traders and the Southeast European gas market. This connectivity can foster regional energy cooperation, improve supply options, and support the integration of gas markets in the region," ICGB executive officers Teodora Georgieva and George Satlas noted in the press release.
The gas link, whose capacity was booked at over 90% in February, will likely also be able to carry hydrogen, with ICGB having already started to assess potential infrastructure readiness, Georgieva told SeeNews in a recent interview.
Since its commissioning in October 2022, the Greece-Bulgaria interconnector has carried more than 11.5 million MWh or over 1 bcm of natural gas northward to Bulgaria and through existing pipelines to other countries, like Moldova and Ukraine.
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