Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his Bulgarian counterpart Kiril Petkov symbolically turned the gas valve at the new IGB pipeline. It will initially be supplied from Azerbaijan through the TAP pipeline.
Just two months after launching construction works for the terminal for liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Alexandroupolis, the prime ministers of Greece and Bulgaria inaugurated the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria or IGB. Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Kiril Petkov pointed to the gas pipeline’s significance for energy diversification in Europe and reducing the dependence on Russian fossil fuels.
The natural gas pipeline is 182 kilometers long. It runs from Komotini in Greece to Stara Zagora in Bulgaria. At its first stage, IGB will have the capacity to transport three billion cubic meters per year, with the prospect of growing to five billion.
The start of operations at a commercial level is scheduled for October 10 at the latest. The interconnector will initially be filled with Azerbaijani gas through the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP).
The IGB project was officially launched 13 years ago
IGB is one of the European Union’s projects of common interest and has a national priority status both in both countries. The first bilateral memorandum of understanding was signed in 2009.
IGB is primarily for Balkan markets
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said IGB substantially improves the interconnection of his country’s gas system with the markets in the Balkans and Eastern Europe. He stressed the importance of combining it with the future floating storage regasification unit or FSRU in Alexandroupolis. The facility is planned to be finished by the end of next year.
Mitsotakis: We will use energy as a means of mutual aid, mutual support and mutual progress
“The Russian invasion of Ukraine already makes essential, more than ever, the coordinated action of the countries of our continent, against Moscow’s conscious choice to turn natural resources into a lever for exerting political pressure, into a raw blackmail. It is something our Bulgarian neighbors already know very well, firsthand. Therefore, our answer is to use energy as a means of mutual aid, mutual support and mutual progress,” Mitsotakis stated.
The pipeline will primarily serve the Balkans, while there is more energy infrastructure under development such as the links with North Macedonia and Italy, the prime minister underscored.
Serbia, BiH, North Macedonia rushing to secure gas
Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina have expressed interest in the Alexandroupolis LNG terminal and other forms of energy supply diversification after the war in Ukraine began, as officials fear that gas supply from Russia could be halted.
North Macedonia is still negotiating on a 10% stake and it is planning to launch a public call by the end of September for a contractor for its gas interconnector with Greece.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, who symbolically turned a valve on with Mitsotakis at the ceremony, noted his country would get gas for the first time from somewhere outside Russia.
Bulgaria had 2.13 TWh in its sole gas storage facility in Chiren as of July 9, which translates to 37% of capacity. The level is comparable to one year ago, but Russia stopped the supply in April. The European Union obliged member states to fill up at least 80% of their capacity by November 1 and to 90% by the beginning of the winter season in the following years.
Of note, Bulgaria’s state-owned supplier and importer Bulgargaz has proposed a 32% increase in the wholesale price of gas for July for producers of thermal energy and intermediaries, to EUR 95,19 per MWh.