Bulgaria: Investigation of the delayed Bulgaria-Greece gas interconnection project

, SEE Energy News

Bulgarian Interior Ministry has launched an investigation of the project for the construction of gas interconnection between Bulgaria and Greece, which was supposed to be completed this year, but was recently pushed back for mid-2022.

The order was given by the caretaker Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Boyko Rashkov. The investigation also includes a probe into data from the Ministry of Energy. Recently, caretaker Minister of Energy Andrey Zhivkov said that he is concerned about the project as the on-site inspection showed that there are issues with the supply of component, i.e. pipes. He sent a letter to the supplier, informing him that if the pipes are not delivered by 31 December 2021, the penalty of 90,000 euros for each overdue day will have to be paid.

The project for the construction of gas interconnection with Greece, which will enable Bulgaria to receive gas from the future Alexandroupoli LNG terminal (in which Bulgartransgaz has 20 % stake), has been delayed for years. On the other hand, the extension of TurkStream gas pipeline, which brings Russian natural gas to southeastern and central Europe, worth over 1.5 billion euros, was completed in one year.

Last month, 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, said that gas interconnection project between Greece and Bulgaria, aimed at helping Bulgaria reduce its dependence on Russian gas imports, has hit another delay and will not become operational until the end of June 2022. The statement from the company said that the coronavirus pandemic and need for an additional environmental assessment for a crossing under a dam in the Bulgarian section have delayed the construction of the pipeline. The so-called IGB pipeline was planned to be commissioned by the end of 2020, when Bulgaria’s 25-year deal with the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) to import 1 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year starts. 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 economic justification. The construction of the pipeline officially started on 22 May 2019.