Bulgaria, The expansion of the Chiren warehouse begins

, SEE Energy News

In Bulgaria, the long-awaited Chiren gas storage expansion project is starting, which should be completed by 2025

A contract was signed between the state operator Bulgartransgaz and the Glavbolgarstroy consortium, for the expansion of the above-ground part of the warehouse and the construction of a new compressor station

In total, over 300 million euros will be invested, a quarter of which is an EU grant

Serbia, Greece, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina – none of these Balkan countries, unlike Bulgaria, has a gas storage facility thanks to which it can store natural gas for the heating season or balance its system on a daily basis.

The natural gas storage facility, located near the village of Chiren, makes Bulgaria the only country in the Balkans, along with Croatia, that has the resources to inject and pump natural gas as needed.

In the conditions of the war in Ukraine and the exit of the Russian supplier Gazprom from the European market (according to the latest data, Russian gas has less than 9 percent share in the European market), the gas storage infrastructure takes on even greater, crucial importance.

Bulgaria’s Chiren storage facility has a capacity of 550 million cubic meters, which is enough to cover 17 to 20 percent of the country’s annual consumption.

For the last 10 years, there have been talks about its expansion, in order to double the capacity and thereby ensure greater energy security, but progress has been slow. The process of building a new pipeline connecting Chiren to Bulgaria’s national gas transmission network and doubling storage and pumping capacity has been further hampered by the pandemic and litigation between potential contractors.

Last week, however, a contract was finally signed for the expansion of the above-ground part of the warehouse and the construction of a new compressor station. The agreement was signed by the state operator Bulgartransgas and the Glavbolgarstroy (GBS) consortium. This shows that all administrative hurdles to the upgrade are over, court appeals have been resolved and construction can begin soon.

The contract for the underground part of the warehouse, which includes the construction of 13 new wells, was awarded to a consortium gathered around Atomenergoremont – a company close to Hrist Kovački, which shares the work of building the new facility with GBS.

The entire project is worth almost 600 million leva (300 million euros), and is expected to be fully completed in two years.

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