Natural gas transmission system operator Bulgartransgaz and UGS Drilling Chiren consortium have signed a contract for the expansion of the Chiren underground gas storage facility. New aboveground and underground facilities will be built, including a new compressor station, ten new highly productive exploitation wells and three monitoring wells, as well as a Chiren-Butan gas pipeline.
The purpose of the this project is to increase the capacity storage to 1 billion cubic meters, the daily withdrawal capacity to 10 million cubic meters and the daily injection capacity to 8 million cubic meters.
Caretaker Minister of Energy Rossen Hristov said after the signing that end users and the economy will directly benefit from the expansion of the gas storage. In his words, Bulgaria will thus be able to store about a third of its annual gas consumption. In case of major disruptions of gas supplies, Bulgaria will be able to use the stored quantities for several months. One financial advantage is that with a storage facility of such capacity, Bulgaria will be able to benefit from cheap natural gas during low-consumption periods. The other financial advantage is the storage service fees that Bulgartransgaz will be paid. Moreover, some 30 % of the money that will be invested in the expansion comes from EU grants.
Bulgartransgaz CEO Vladimir Malinov said that the total cost of the project, which consists of three sub-project, will be over 250 million euros. He specified that of this amount, 78 million euros are grants from the Connect Europe Facility, 45 million euros are loaned from the Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH), while the rest is to be obtained as a loan from US Government institutions. He said that the project for the expansion of Chiren gas storage facility should be completed in late 2024 or early 2025.