Bulgaria, Gas interconnection with Greece successfully hydrotested

, SEE Energy News

ICGB, a joint venture company of Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) and IGI Poseidon, in which Greek Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) and Italian Edison hold equal stakes, in charge of the project for the construction of gas interconnection between Bulgaria and Greece, said the entire route of the so-called IGB gas pipeline has been successfully hydrotested. The interconnection is of crucial importance for diversifying the sources and routes of gas supplies to Bulgaria, which is almost entirely dependent on Russian gas.

Hydrostatic pressure testing is one of several methods to reconfirm the structural integrity of a gas pipeline. The test involves filling a pipeline segment with water until it is at a pressure that is higher than the pipeline will ever operate with natural gas. The test allows the project company to confirm the safe working pressure of the pipeline and to guarantee that the installation is structurally sound, verifying its quality.

ICGB Executive Directors Teodora Georgieva and Konstantinos Karayannakos said that the finalization of the hydrostatic pressure testing is a key step towards finishing the interconnector and putting it into operation. According to them, the IGB pipeline is a strategic project and important not only for Bulgaria and Greece but also for the whole region, therefore the construction company is expected to finish their work as soon as possible in order for the corresponding institutions to start all necessary administrative procedures for putting the interconnector into operation.

As of mid-April, 91 % of all construction works on the interconnector have been completed. Among the main elements that need to be finished are two gas metering stations at Stara Zagora in south Bulgaria, and at Komotini in Greece.

Recultivation is underway along the finished linear part of the interconnector, with 31 out of the 182 kilometers route being already in conformity with the ecological norms.

Although there were reports that the completion of gas interconnection could be once more extended to autumn, last month, Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov confirmed that the construction of the pipeline will be completed before 1 July, with the start of commercial operation expected in the last quarter of the year.

182 kilometers long Bulgaria-Greece gas interconnection is designed with the capacity between 3 and 5 billion cubic meters of gas per year, but it could be extended up to 10 billion cubic meters in case of commercial interest and economical justification. The construction of the pipeline officially started on 22 May 2019.

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