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Bulgaria Builds Gas Links to Source Natural Gas from Romania

Image: Gabriel Petrescu
Image: Gabriel Petrescu

In February 2011, the European Council decided that each EU member state should have at least two sources of gas and electricity by 2014 to avoid repeating the scenario some member nations encountered following the Russian-Ukrainian gas crisis.

The dispute left Bulgaria without gas for three weeks in the midst of winter. As a result,  Bulgaria commenced construction of a gas interconnection with Romania in the latter half of August.

Total project value is approximately €24 million; €9 million of which are EU funds, €11 million from Bulgaria, and the rest is to be provided by the Romanian Transgaz.

The total length of the pipeline between Giurgiu and Ruse is 25 km with 15.4km in Bulgaria and 2.1 km beneath the Danube.

Bulgaria could import gas from Romania, said Economy and Energy Minister of this country Delian Dobrev. The official attended the launch ceremony in Ruse Thursday of the Bulgarian Gas Grid interconnection, saying that this project will not only help to increase security of supply but also to diversify.

"We know that the Romanians have an advantage over us in terms of natural gas deposits in the Black Sea.  They have already discovered significant quantities and this project will allow us to buy Romanian gas," said Delian Dobrev.

The pipeline between Giurgiu and Ruse and will have an annual capacity of between 0.5 and 1.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas, representing half of Bulgaria's consumption. Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said at a periodic meeting with press that he has reports that in the block located on the continental shelf of the exclusive economic zone of Bulgaria in the Black Sea there are deposits with at least the same amount of gas as those recently discovered in Romania. "I do not envy Romania because I know a bit more than you and I hope shortly to announced a discovery of gas deposits and oil probably in the Bulgarian Black Sea" added Borisov.

The Bulgarian government approved in late July a permit that will allow the French oil group Total SA to conduct exploration on the block "Khan Asparuh" which has a total area of over 14,000 square kilometers and is located at a distance of 15 kilometers from natural gas deposit discovered in February this year in the Romanian Black Sea.

Interconnection between Bulgaria and Romania is a project appreciated also by Romanian officials.  It is particularly important because it can provide short-term flow of gas in a moment of crisis, and in the long term, contribute to security of supply of both countries, said Liviu Pintican, Deputy Director General of Transgaz to Agerpres.

Mr. Pintican noted that the Romanian land segment is nearly completed and construction of the portion under the Danube will commence shortly.

A Transgaz representative declined to comment on whether the project was delayed because the Bulgarian side, which is only now beginning construction, but expressed hope that the project will be completed by the deadline, which is the middle of 2013.  Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov urged the Bulgarian-Austrian consortium that will build the segment in the country to work with doubled efforts to complete the project before the deadline of May 31, 2013.

Kiril Temelkov, general manager of Bulgartransgaz, promised that this will happen. Temelkov told journalists that the sub-Danube pipeline segment is in design and will be built through a state of the art technology and it will not affect the environment - the pipe will pass a few meters below the river bottom.

The Danube section will be built by a consortium with few Romanian companies participating and one from Bulgaria, the minister said.

The gas interconnection pipeline between Bulgaria and Romania is not the only project that Bulgaria hoped to win some energy independence from Russian gas, allowing it to avoid gas supply crises, such as the winter of 2009. Bulgaria builds a connection with Greek natural gas transmission system. According to Kirill's Temelkov, general manager Bulgartransgaz, in the last quarter of 2012, it will start building the Bulgarian-Greek gas interconnection.

On the other hand, the Bulgarian Ministry of Economy is working on a Memorandum with the Turkish Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, which will be preceded by a political commitment of Turkey to participate financially in the project for Bulgarian-Turkish gas interconnection.

The project aims to be a grant program funded by the European Union.

The Bulgarian Minister said the country would probe funding opportunities for EU gas link with Turkey, at least in terms of the future pipeline will be located on Bulgarian territory.

Through interconnections with neighbors in gas transport, Bulgaria proves to be the initiator of many projects of this type, using EU grants. The European Commission has already approved €9 million in financing for Bulgaria-Romania gas interconnection and €45 million for Bulgaria-Greece gas interconnection, plus another €2.5 million for the feasibility study and form request for Bulgaria-Serbia gas interconnection.

Silviu Molnar

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