ECONOMY

Greece-Bulgaria gas pipeline to be ready by end of June

Greece-Bulgaria gas pipeline to be ready by end of June

A long-delayed gas pipeline between Greece and Bulgaria aimed at helping Sofia cut reliance on Russian gas will be ready by the end of June and start commercial operations in September, Bulgaria’s prime minister said on Monday.

Bulgaria currently meets almost all its gas needs with imports from Russia’s Gazprom and the new gas link is crucial to wean it off Russian gas, which is also a key priority in Europe’s reviewed energy policy following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The 220-million-euro Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB) was planned to have been ready by the end of 2020 after hitting several administrative hurdles in recent years.

The long-delayed pipeline will be operational in September, Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov told reporters after inspecting the construction site with Greek Energy Minister Kostas Skrekas in the Greek town of Komotini.

“June will be the final date for the completion of this project, which is very important for us,” he added. Bulgaria, where annual gas consumption is about 3 billion cubic meters (bcm), has sealed a deal to receive 1 bcm of Azeri gas but can only fully tap the contract after IGB becomes operational.

The 180-kilometer-long pipeline is being built by a joint venture of Bulgaria’s state energy company BEH, Greece’s gas utility DEPA and Italy’s Edison.

It will have a capacity of 3 billion cubic meters which can be increased up to 5 bcm.