All major activities for the construction of the Greece-Bulgaria interconnector continue to be actively implemented, and in the second half of October the first hydro tests of the infrastructure will start. They are already being implemented on the territory of Greece, and the process is expected to start soon on the IGB route on Bulgarian territory.
The hydro-test is one of the most important stages in the testing of the gas pipeline, as it allows to check thoroughly whether the implementation of the infrastructure fully meets the set parameters in the working design, whether the quality of materials and labor meet the requirements. The hydro-tests are carried out in stages, which start after the performance of all other obligatory non-destructive inspections of the already welded gas pipeline. Until the interconnector is put into commercial operation, a number of other procedures are pending, including tests with the transmission of real quantities of gas to ensure compliance with all safety standards and to confirm the durability of the constructed facility over time.
In October, the project company ICGB, which is responsible for the implementation of the interconnector, successfully passed the fourth independent audit planned in the construction phase, which is performed by the foreign company RSK Ltd. under the loan financing from the European Investment Bank (EIB). Due to the enhanced control related to the granting of EIB financing, the project company is subject to a total of 6 socio-environmental audits during the construction phase of the project and several subsequent inspections after commissioning. During the audit, independent experts carried out detailed inspections of the pipeline on the territory of both Greece and Bulgaria. All active construction activities were inspected, as well as the implementation of the crossings under the bed of the Maritsa River and under the dam "Studen Kladenets". No serious violations or deviations from the norms were registered during the inspection.
The ICGB also received approval following the completion of a detailed audit of the second interim payment of the European Energy Recovery Program (EEPR) grant. In parallel with the progress of the construction of the IGB gas pipeline, the project company initiated the process of drawing up and submitting the request for reimbursement of the eligible costs incurred for the purchase of assets and for performed construction activities. In October, the European Commission formally approved without comment the second interim payment of EUR 16,503,254.24, and the funds have already been received. This is an important sign of the ongoing support for the IGB project by the EC, as well as the high appreciation of the project company and its systematic efforts to strictly apply all procedures and rules in the implementation of the IGB project.
Nearly 140 km of the 182-kilometer route are fully completed - welded and laid in the trench. The welding activities are completed at 96%, the implementation of the other facilities provided by the project is progressing - gas measuring station near Stara Zagora and dispatch center near Haskovo.