The European Commission (EC) approved public support from Greece and Bulgaria for the Greek-Bulgarian natural gas interconnector, the Commission announced on Thursday.
The Commission explained that the measures approved on Thursday would support the construction and operation of the 182 kilometer cross-border gas interconnector (IGB) between Greece (Komotini) and Bulgaria (Stara Zagora).
The EC noted that the IGB has been included in the list of European Projects of Common Interest, "given its strategic importance for the diversification of natural gas supplies into Eastern Europe through the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP)."
The gas interconnector is designed to transport 3 billion cubic meters per year (bcm/y) of natural gas from Greece to Bulgaria by 2021. At a later phase, the interconnector has the capability of allowing increased flows of 5 bcm/y, and could also allow physical reverse flow capacity from Bulgaria to Greece.
"The new gas interconnector between Greece and Bulgaria will increase the security of energy supply and enhance competition, to the benefit of citizens in the region," commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of EC competition policy, was quoted as saying.
At present 98 percent of Bulgaria's gas imports come from a single source - Russia's Gazprom, the EC said.
The EC believes that the project will help Bulgaria diversify its gas imports by doubling its entry capacity and will also diversify entry routes to the southeastern European region. This will be achieved through the provision of additional supply sources from the Caspian region, Middle East, East Mediterranean and via both existing and planned liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals in Greece and Turkey.
The total investment cost for the realization of the IGB interconnector totals €240 million, according to the EC.
The IGB pipeline will connect the Greece's state natural gas operator company DESFA's and the TAP gas transmission system in Greece with the gas transmission system in Bulgaria.
ICGB AD, a 50-50 joint venture between the IGI Poseidon consortium including Edison of Italy and Greek gas incumbent DEPA, and the Bulgarian gas incumbent BEH will own the IGB.
The 878-kilometer TAP will start at the Greek/Turkish border, cross Albania, and after passing under the Adriatic Sea, will end in southern Italy. It constitutes the final leg of the 3,500-kilometer-long Southern Gas Corridor to transport gas from the Caspian region to Europe. TAP will have an initial annual capacity of 10 bcm, equivalent to the energy consumption of approximately seven million households in Europe.
By Ebru Sengul