The Greece-Bulgaria gas interconnection (so- called IGB pipeline) started commercial operation at 07:00 AM on 1 October. The commissioning of the gas pipeline coincided with the first day of the new gas year and the start of the heating season.
The first quantities of natural gas through the interconnector were transited at the beginning of the gas day from the Trans-Adriatic (TAP) pipeline. IGB pipeline successfully connects the national gas transmission networks of Greece and Bulgaria at Komotini and Stara Zagora. The total capacity with which the gas pipeline begins operating is 3 billion cubic meters per year.
The President of the European Commission and a number of heads of state welcomed the first quantities of natural gas through the IGB during an official event held later in the day in Sofia. The landmark event on the occasion of the commissioning of the IGB was attended by the Prime Minister of Bulgaria Galab Donev, the President of the country Rumen Radev, the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, the President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic, the President of North Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski, the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Prime Minister of Romania Nicolae Ciuca.
Managing Director of 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, Teodora Georgieva said that the importance of the commercial launch of this strategic energy project goes beyond the national borders of Greece and Bulgaria. With the commissioning of IGB pipeline, a key stage in the development of the region’s energy system has been entered. This is the first project in Bulgaria that brings real diversification of natural gas sources and ensures energy independence, the first fully automated gas pipeline in the country, and for its completion, the third largest horizontally directed drilling in Europe was carried out. IGB pipeline will also be Bulgaria’s only direct connection with TAP and will make the country part of the Southern Gas Corridor.
Her colleague Georgios Satlas said that the commissioning of the interconnector marks a new stage in the development of this landmark project between Greece and Bulgaria. Today is the beginning of the new gas year and the beginning of the heating season and both business and residential consumers in both countries will feel the effect of IGB’s launch. This means secure, diversified supplies of natural gas and increased competition on the energy market. Inevitably, this will also have a positive impact on the prices for end consumers.
On the first working day of the pipeline, more than 29,171 MWh are expected to enter the gas pipeline, and for the month of October the estimates are for 888,801 MWh. Half of the entire capacity of the interconnector is already booked under long-term contracts of up to 25 years, and the remaining free capacity is available on two independent European platforms as of 30 September. Through the interconnector Bulgaria receives the full quantities under the country’s contract with Azerbaijan for 1 billion cubic meters per year.
The gas interconnector between Greece and Bulgaria can have its capacity increased to 5 billion cubic meters, which will also allow for reverse flow in the direction of Stara Zagora – Komotini. This requires the construction of a compressor station in Komotini, which will be ready in 2024, at the same time as the commissioning of the LNG terminal in Alexandroupoli in northern Greece.