Bulgarian Minister of Energy Andrey Zhivkov has expressed his serious concerns about the accumulated delay in the construction of the Bulgarian-Greek gas connection at a meeting with his Greek counterpart Costis Skrekas and US Ambassador Hero Mustafa as part of the Fifth Energy Forum for Southeast Europe held in Thessaloniki, Report informs, citing foreign media.
"The government is fully assisting the contractors in accelerating the construction," said Minister Zhivkov. "Thanks to this support, the crossing of the Maritsa River and the Studen Kladenets Dam has been successfully completed."
Shareholders in the ICGB project company, which owns the IGB pipeline, have confirmed their commitment to physically complete construction by the end of this year. According to the latest updated schedule, the commercial operation of the connection should start in the middle of next year.
Ministers Zhivkov and Skrekas reaffirmed their full commitment to the development of the project, which is key to energy diversification in the region.
Earlier, during the forum, the Minister of Energy of Bulgaria pointed out the development of gas infrastructure in Bulgaria as a good example for strengthening regional interconnection and improving energy security. He pointed out that among the most important projects are the Greece-Bulgaria interconnector and the liquefied natural gas terminal near Alexandroupolis. Through them, the region will have access to various sources and routes for natural gas supply.
As part of the development of the Southern Gas Corridor, through this Bulgarian-Greek gas connection, Southeast and Central Europe will have access to alternative supplies from the Caspian region and the opportunity to import liquefied natural gas.
He also spoke about regional infrastructure projects, among which the Vertical Gas Corridor for gas supplies from south to north is key. The Eastmed pipeline will provide countries in the region with access to gas fields in Cyprus, Israel, and the Eastern Mediterranean.
The IGB is designed to transport blue fuel from Shah Deniz 2 to Bulgaria. Through this pipeline, which will join TAP, Bulgaria will import 1 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year from Azerbaijan. Thus, the state company Bulgargaz EAD has signed a contract with the Shah Deniz consortium to purchase this amount of gas from the Shah Deniz-2 field. Azerbaijan will be able to meet 25-30% of Bulgaria's gas needs. Construction work on the IGB is expected to be completed in the second half of next year.