The Greek-Bulgarian gas pipeline, inaugurated this summer, is now operational. The President of the European Commission welcomes it as a way to emancipate yourself from Russian energy.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen welcomed the start of commercial operation of a Greek-Bulgarian gas pipeline in Sofia on Saturday, which she says is the key to emancipation from Russian energy.
“Today marks the beginning of a new era for Bulgaria and Southeast Europe,” she said at a ceremony attended by many leaders from the region. This gas pipeline, “synonymous with freedom, the emancipation of Russian gas,” “changes the situation. For Bulgaria and Europe’s energy security,” she added.
The so-called IGB link, which is 182 km long, was inaugurated in July, but commissioning only started on Saturday, Bulgarian interim Prime Minister Galab Donev said. It allows Bulgaria, which has stopped receiving gas from Russian giant Gazprom since April, to diversify its sources and “be less vulnerable”.
1 billion m3 per year
This Balkan country, which before the conflict in Ukraine was heavily dependent on Moscow for energy, is now connected to the Tanap/Tap gas pipeline, designed to transport Azerbaijani gas from the Caspian Sea to Western Europe. Sofia needs to receive 1 billion m3 of this gas per year for a total ITUC capacity of 3 billion m3.
“This could cover Bulgaria’s entire gas consumption,” said the head of the EU Commission. “This is excellent news in very difficult times (…). Thanks to such projects, Europe will have enough fuel for the winter.”
At a cost of 220 million euros, of which 50 million euros in EU funds, the idea of the Greek-Bulgarian link was born in 2009, but its construction had taken a long time. In comparison, the blast-hit Nord Stream gas pipelines cost 8 billion euros for a capacity of 110 million cubic meters. According to several specialists, they would be irreparable.
A Memorandum of Understanding with Azerbaijan
The war in Ukraine and the energy crisis accelerated efforts. It took “a lot of determination” and “patience” to complete it, said Ms von der Leyen, who is trying to reduce the EU’s dependence on Russian gas at all costs.
In July, for example, it signed a memorandum of understanding with Azerbaijan in Baku to double gas imports from that country in a few years in order to become independent of Russian gas.
The ceremony was attended by EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, North Macedonian Stevo Pendarovski and Bulgarian Prime Minister Roumen Radev, as well as Greek and Romanian politicians.