Bulgaria has started building a 240-million-euro gas pipeline with Greece that will end the Balkan country’s total dependence on Russian gas and help diversify supplies in Southeastern Europe.
Sofia, which at present gets all of its gas from Russia via one route, pledged to start building gas links with its neighbors and diversify its suppliers in 2009, when a price dispute between Moscow and Kiev left hundreds of Bulgarians without heating in the middle of winter.
After years of delays, a 182-kilometer interconnector link between Bulgaria and Greece with an initial annual capacity of 3 billion cubic meters is now expected to ready by the end of 2020 and will transport mainly Azeri gas to Bulgaria.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his Bulgarian counterpart Boyko Borisov on Wednesday announced the symbolic start of the pipeline’s construction near the village of Kirkovo, some 15 km north of the border with Greece.
“The project is of strategic importance not only for our two countries, but for the whole of Europe, including the countries in the Western Balkans,” Borisov said.
“It will lead to real diversification of gas supplies.”
Earlier this month the project company for the pipeline, ICGB, picked Greek gas contractor Avax to build the link between the southern Bulgarian city of Stara Zagora and the Greek city of Komotini in northeastern Greece.
ICGB is 50 percent owned by Bulgaria’s state-held BEH energy holding company.
The remaining shares are held by Greece’s DEPA and Italy’s Edison.