Greece and Bulgaria have completed a gas pipeline linking the two countries, promising new sources of supply for southeastern Europe as the region seeks alternatives to Russian fuel.
The long-delayed Greece-Bulgaria interconnector was inaugurated in a ceremony in Komotini, northern Greece, on Friday and could start operating by the end of this month. The 113-mile (182-kilometre) pipeline will connect to the Trans-Adriatic Gas Pipeline and eventually to the rest of the Southern Gas Corridor pipes bringing Azeri gas to Europe.
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The completion of the project, initially scheduled for 2009 and under construction since 2019, is a boon for a region particularly dependent on Moscow for its gas.
Fuel prices have soared in recent months as Russian supplies have collapsed and Europe has braced for further cuts. Bulgaria has already been cut off by Gazprom PJSC amid a payment dispute.
“The project will transform the energy map of the region,” said Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov. “This will finally end the Russian energy monopoly.”
In the fall, the new interconnector, known as IGB, will connect to pipelines receiving regasified fuel from the Greek liquefied natural gas terminal near Athens. Next year, the country plans to connect the pipeline to a new floating LNG terminal being built off the city of Alexandroupolis.
The launch is “an important moment for the whole of the Balkans, for the whole of Europe”, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said. The pipeline will be “a decisive energy bridge that connects the geographic south to the north”.
The 240 million euro ($243 million) link has a capacity of 3 billion cubic meters per year, which can reach 5 billion cubic meters depending on demand and the capacity of regional networks.
ICGB AD, the company in charge of the project, belongs to the Bulgarian public energy holding and a joint venture between the Greek public gas supplier Depa SA and the Italian Edison SpA.
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