Bulgaria is ready to finalize a deal to build a gas link to neighboring Greece but is waiting for the new government in Athens to move ahead with the project, Bulgaria’s Deputy Energy Minister Nikolay Nikolov said on Wednesday.
Bulgaria wants to build the link as part of its efforts to wean itself off near total dependence on Russian gas and turn itself into a regional energy hub.
But the 182-kilometer project has repeatedly fallen behind schedule since it was first conceived in 2009 after a gas price spat between Ukraine and Russia.
It aims to tap gas from Azerbaijan, and can also carry gas from Greece’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal.
Recent delays mean the project will finish at the end of 2018, against an earlier target of mid-2018, Nikolov said.
Bulgaria’s state energy holding BEH has a 50 percent stake with the rest held by Greek state gas operator DEPA and Italy’s Edison.
It will pump up to 5 billion cubic meters of gas per year.
“What we are expecting to happen is the final investment, which we have to sign,” Nikolov said at the Reuters Eastern Europe Investment Summit, referring to the final investment decision (FID) for the deal.
“If you ask us, we can sign it tomorrow. So it actually depends on our Greek colleagues and given that the new government is in place as of today, we are expecting as soon as possible for them to sign the FID and therefore start the project.”