Greece-Bulgaria pipeline to raise security, lower gas prices

Greece and Bulgaria have agreed on the construction of a pipeline that will allow Bulgaria to import natural gas from the Caspian Sea region, the Greek Development Ministry said yesterday. Bulgaria’s state-owned Energy Holding signed an agreement with Greek gas company DEPA and Italy’s Edison on setting up a company to construct and operate the pipeline, and a second company to supply and exploit the gas commercially. The Development Ministry said the deal will provide a boost to Greece’s energy security due to the higher volume of natural gas transported to and from the country. «This deal will also allow Greek consumers to benefit from lower natural gas prices arising from the increased volumes,» it said in a statement. The link, called Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria, or IGB, will allow Bulgaria to import 1 billion cubic meters of gas from Azerbaijan each year from 2012 through the ITGI pipeline due to carry Caspian gas via Turkey and Greece to Italy. The Interconnector Turkey-Greece-Italy, or ITGI, pipeline has been strongly supported by the United States as an alternative supply source to Russian gas. The Greek-Turkish section of the pipeline was inaugurated in late 2007. Costs for the IGB pipeline – a 160-kilometer link between Komotini, northern Greece, and Stara Zagora in Bulgaria – are estimated at 120 million euros, of which some 45 million euros will be provided by the European Union. Bulgaria’s Energy Holding also agreed with Greece’s gas network operator DESFA to use the capacity of a Greek liquefied natural gas terminal near Athens to import gas. PPC and Restis go after Montenegro power monopoly Public Power Corporation (PPC) said yesterday it would make a joint bid with Greek shipping group Restis for a stake in Montenegro’s power monopoly EPCG, as part of plans to expand abroad. «The decision was taken in line with PPC’s strategy to seek revenue growth through expansion in Southeastern European countries,» the company said in a bourse filing. PPC and Restis unit GoldenEnergy One Holdings will seek to acquire up to 45 percent of EPCG through direct share purchases and participation in a share capital increase. EPCG, a vertically integrated power company, runs electricity plants with an installed capacity of 868 megawatts and has more than 320,000 clients. Shares in PPC, which has a market value of 3.6 billion euros, advanced 0.71 percent on the Athens bourse yesterday to 15.51 euros, versus a 3.12 percent advance on the broader market.