The interconnector with Greece has successfully started commercial operation

Energy / Bulgaria
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The President of the EC and a number of heads of state welcomed the acceptance of the first quantities of natural gas under the IGB during an official event in Sofia; the gas pipeline became operational on the first day of the new gas year and in time for the new heating season.

The Greece-Bulgaria gas interconnection began commercial operation at 7:00 a.m. on October 1st. The commissioning of the key gas pipeline coincided with the first day of the new gas year and the heating season.

The first quantities of gas through the interconnector arrived at the beginning of the gas day from the Trans-Adriatic Gas Pipeline (TAP). IGB successfully connected the national gas transmission networks of Greece and Bulgaria at the Komotini and Stara Zagora points. The total capacity with which the gas pipeline started operation is 3 billion cubic meters per year.

The President of the EC and a number of heads of state welcomed the acceptance of the first quantities of natural gas under the IGB during an official event held later in the day in Sofia. The landmark event on the occasion of the commissioning of the IGB was honored by the Prime Minister of Bulgaria Galab Donev, the President of the country Rumen Radev, the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, the President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic, the President of North Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski, the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Prime Minister of Romania Nicolae Chuca.

"Today is of great importance for us - we mark the commercial launch of a strategic energy project, the importance of which goes beyond the national borders of Greece and Bulgaria. With the commissioning of the IGB, we are entering a key stage in the development of the region's energy system and taking a huge step forward towards a stronger, more connected and independent Europe," said ICGB Executive Director Teodora Georgieva. She thanked all the parties who contributed to the realization of the project - the shareholders of ICGB, the company's team, the national governments of Greece and Bulgaria over the years, the European Commission and international partners from a number of countries such as Azerbaijan and the USA, as well as the energy regulators of the two countries. developing IGB.

"It's no coincidence that the ICGB team and I have been saying over the years that this interconnect is a 'game-changer.' This is the first project in Bulgaria that brings real diversification of natural gas sources and ensures energy independence; the first fully automated gas pipeline in the country, and for its construction we executed the third largest horizontal drilling in the whole of Europe. IGB will also be Bulgaria's only direct connection with TAP and will make the country part of the Southern Gas Corridor," emphasized Georgieva.

"Today's start of commercial operation of the interconnector marks a new stage in the development of this landmark project between Greece and Bulgaria. Today is the beginning of the new gas year and the beginning of the heating season - I am sure that business and domestic consumers in our home countries will feel the effect of the functioning of the IGB. This means secure, diversified supplies of natural gas and increased competition in the energy market. Inevitably, this will also have a positive impact on final prices," said Georgios Satlas, Executive Director of the ICGB. He pointed out that the IGB has been of strategic importance to the region from the moment it was planned. "However, in the new reality - the ongoing war in Ukraine, the growing need across Europe for diversified, secure energy supplies, the IGB is taking on an even more significant role that will redefine the positions that our countries have." The cooperation between Greece and Bulgaria in the energy sector, the synergy and the strong relationship we have are becoming a landmark example of Europe's path to energy independence and connectivity," Satlas said.

On the first working day of the IGB, more than 29,171 MWh are expected to enter the gas pipeline, and for the entire month of October, the forecast is for 888,801 MWh. Half of the entire capacity of the gas pipeline is already reserved under long-term contracts of up to 25 years, and the remaining free capacity is available on two independent European platforms as of September 30. The interconnector receives the full quantities under Bulgaria's contract with Azerbaijan for 1 billion cubic meters per year.

The intersystem gas connection between Greece and Bulgaria has the possibility of increasing the capacity to 5 billion cubic meters per year, which will also allow a reverse flow in the direction of Stara Zagora - Komotini. For this purpose, it is planned to build a compressor station in Komotini, which will be ready in 2024, simultaneously with the commissioning of the natural gas terminal next to the Greek city of Alexandroupolis.

The IGB is of key importance for increasing the security of supply and for ensuring the diversification of natural gas sources for Bulgaria, Greece and the region of South-Eastern Europe. The project will allow the implementation of access to secure supplies from various sources to a number of countries in Central and South-Eastern Europe and the Western Balkans, with the possibility of supplies including to Moldova and Ukraine.

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