The intersystem gas connection with Serbia (the IBS gas pipeline) is ready. Only the full readiness of the Serbian side is expected to enter full operation. According to preliminary information, the official opening by Serbia is expected in two days. The new gas infrastructure has a capacity of 1.8 billion m3/year. with the possibility of reverse flow as well. With the implementation of the project, a new entry-exit point of interconnection of the Bulgaria-Serbia border with the infrastructure of the transmission operator of Serbia and new national exit points to customers on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria is created.
The gas pipeline with Serbia is reversible and guarantees greater security for our country in terms of gas supplies. "The new gas connection gives our country the opportunity to gasify the cities of Dragoman and Slivnitsa, as it will take some time to build the internal gas infrastructure in the two settlements," Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov said during an inspection of the IBS gas pipeline. "It makes it possible, if a crisis occurs regarding the current gas supplies to Bulgaria, that our country can supply natural gas through Serbia, for example from Croatian ports, the western countries. It also provides us with stronger negotiating positions," the Prime Minister said.
According to him, the gas connection, on the other hand, provides peace of mind for Serbia if something happens along the current route of gas supplies to the country through the Balkan Stream. "It provides her with an alternative and security. Separately, it enables competition. Serbia can buy gas from other sources, for example, liquefied natural gas from Greece or from Azerbaijan through the Southern Gas Corridor. I know they already have a contract," Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov said during an inspection of the IBS gas pipeline. In this regard, he specified that, according to his information, a very high-level presence from the Azerbaijani side is expected on Sunday at the official opening from the Serbian side.
As is known, in mid-November, Serbia signed an agreement with Azerbaijan to purchase 400 million cubic meters of natural gas annually from 2024.
"There could be a very high-level visit from Azerbaijan on Sunday, and that puts them in a much better position," the prime minister also commented. He also took into account the fact that Serbia is facing elections.
"We are ready, as they say, to 'push the button' and we want to congratulate the people who built this facility, thank the organizations that participated. However, we should consider that Bulgaria has better opportunities than it had before," said Denkov.
In response to a question about whether the Trans-Balkan gas pipeline is back on the gas map, the prime minister commented that "in a sense - yes".
"Because there has been a lot of abuse over the years about how Bulgaria will be a hub (gas hub), so I avoid this statement, but the truth is that with the projects that are supported by the EC, we actually find ourselves with much better connectivity at the moment, than years ago," said Nikolay Denkov. In this regard, the prime minister reminded that in the last two years the interconnector with Greece was completed, the gas connection with Serbia is now ready, and work is also underway to expand the gas connection with Romania. "Of course, we must also take into account the possibilities of gas from Azerbaijan, which is key especially for prices and the expansion of the gas storage in Chiren, which is also being implemented with European funding. All this development for the last two years shows that we are in a much better situation," said the Prime Minister. He also reminded that the gas pipeline is bidirectional, i.e. if necessary, Bulgaria can also receive gas from western countries. "The gas connection with Serbia has its special place in the development of the entire gas network," concluded the Prime Minister.
The Minister of Energy Rumen Radev, the representative of the EC in Bulgaria, the chairman of EWRC Ivan Ivanov also took part in the inspection.
The contractor for the IBS gas pipeline project is the DZZD "International Gas" company ("Glavbolgarstroy" AD and "Glavbolgarstroy International" AD). The actual construction of the section of the gas pipeline (total length of 170 km) on Bulgarian territory is 62 kilometers and was completed on time. In practice, the gas connection with Serbia has been operational since October.