Bulgaria, Chiren underground gas storage expansion to be funded with 78 million euros EU grant

, SEE Energy News

A project for the expansion of the underground natural gas storage facility at Chiren in northwestern Bulgaria will be financed with a 78 million euros grant from the EU.

Natural gas transmission system operator Bulgartransgaz said that this is one of five approved energy projects and the only one concerning natural gas, about which the European Commission has announced that the EU member states have agreed to finance under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF)- The other four projects are the EuroAsia interconnector (657 million euros) to support the first electricity interconnection between Cyprus and the European grid, Baltic Synchronization Project Phase II (170 million euros), Aurora line (127 million euros), and Northern Lights Phase II (4 million euros).

The European Commission noted that the planned capacity increase of the Chiren gas storage facility in Bulgaria is necessary for the regional security of supply in southeastern Europe and for reducing gas supply costs. It also supports the phase-out of coal in the region, facilitating the clean energy transition.

CEF funding is only available for projects designated by the European Commission to be of common interest (PCIs). The Chiren expansion has been included invariably on all PCI lists since 2017.

The Chiren project stipulates that the amount of active gas in the storage facility will be increased to 1 billion cubic meters, and the daily injection and extraction capacity will be enlarged to 8-10 million cubic meters. The expansion of the capacity of the storage facility will promote trade in natural gas and will enhance market integration in southeastern Europe by boosting competition and raising the liquidity of the regional gas markets.

Bulgartransgaz CEO Vladimir Malinov said the availability of a sufficient gas storage capacity in the region is of key importance for alternative gas suppliers, particularly LNG suppliers, because it allows flexible supply management. He pointed to a synergy between the Chiren expansion and the construction of an LNG terminal at Alexandroupoli in northern Greece, in which Bulgartransgaz holds 20 % stake, as well as other Bulgartransgaz projects for improving connectivity with the gas networks of neighboring countries.