January 20 (SeeNews) - Serbia expects to complete the construction of the gas interconnection with Bulgaria by the beginning of 2023, Serbia's energy minister Zorana Mihajlovic said.
"The construction works on the interconnection will last for a year and a half. At the beginning of 2023, Serbia will be connected to Bulgaria through the Nis-Dimitrovgrad-Sofia interconnector, allowing us to import gas from another source," Mihajlovic said on Tuesday in a video file posted on the website of Tanjug news agency.
The tender for the construction of the Serbian section of the interconnector between Nis and Dimitrovgrad will be launched next week and works are expected to start in the summer of 2021, Mihajlovic said.
"This [the Bulgaria-Serbia gas link] gives us the opportunity to get gas from some other suppliers through that pipeline, such as gas from Azerbaijan, as well as a completely new gas pipeline that has been talked about for several years, the EastMed gas pipeline that comes from Israel and could reach Nis through Cyprus, Crete, Peloponnese, Athens, Thessaloniki and Sofia," Mihajlovic said in a separate statement posted on the website of Serbia's energy ministry last week.
Total investment of the Nis-Dimitrovgrad gas pipeline will amount to 85.5 million euro ($104 million), to be provided from the pre-accession funds of the European Union (EU) and a loan from the European Investment Bank, Serbia's government said last week.
In December 2019, former energy minister Aleksandar Antic said Serbia hopes to start receiving natural gas from the Southern Gas Corridor transporting gas from Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz field, through the interconnection with Bulgaria in 2023.
The interconnector between Bulgaria and Serbia is one of the priority projects of the High Level Group on Energy Connectivity in Central and South-East Europe (CESEC), established by the European Union (EU) in 2015 to facilitate the swift completion of cross-border and trans-European projects that diversify gas supplies to the region. In October, the European Commission approved a grant of about 28 million euro for the construction of the Bulgarian section of the gas link.