ECONOMY

Bulgaria-Greece gas link to be ready by 2015

Greece and Bulgaria plan to complete the construction of a 200-million-euro pipeline connecting their natural gas grids by 2015, said Elio Ruggeri, chief executive officer of IGI Poseidon SA.

The 180-kilometer link will run from Komotini in northern Greece to Stara Zagora in Bulgaria, and will be open to ship gas from the Caspian, the Mediterranean, or from a liquefied natural gas terminal in Turkey, Ruggeri said in an interview in the capital Sofia on Friday.

Its initial annual carrying capacity will be 3 billion to 5 billion cubic meters. Bulgaria imports all of its gas from Russia and plans to diversify supplies.

A 24-million-euro interconnecting pipeline with Romania?s grid will be completed in 2013.

Similar pipelines with Turkey and Serbia are being developed, according to the Energy Ministry.

?We are now completing our engineering activities and obtaining permits both in Greece and Bulgaria with the aim of reaching an investment decision by the end of 2012 or beginning 2013,? Ruggeri said. ?This will ensure that the pipeline will be in operation either by the end of 2014 or beginning of 2015.?

IGI Poseidon SA is a venture between Greece?s natural-gas supplier Depa and Edison SpA, which has an agreement with the Bulgarian Energy Holding EAD to develop the pipe. The group has been in contact with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and other lenders ?to structure a financing plan? Ruggeri said, adding that ?prospects are optimistic.?

A construction contractor will be selected in 2013, he said. [Bloomberg]