NEWS23 APR 15Balkan Countries Sign Gas Pipeline Agreement

Bulgaria, Greece and Romania are planning the construction of a new gas corridor in order to reduce dependence on Russian energy deliveries.

Romania

Bucharest

Energy officials from three Balkan countries on Wednesday signed an agreement on the construction of a gas corridor that will interconnect their natural gas networks and will have a capacity of 3-5 billion cubic meters per year.

The vertical gas corridor, which will require a total investment of about 220 million euro and will be operational by 2018, is to contribute to the diversification of gas supply. Most of the gas will come from Azerbaijan and from Greece’s liquefied natural gas terminals.

“We are finally getting a new source of gas because until now we were totally reliant on one source, Russia,” media reported Bulgaria’s Deputy Energy Minister Zhecho Stankov as saying.

The agreement comes as the European Commission on Wednesday sent a Statement of Objections to Russia’s energy giant Gazprom, arguing that its business practices in Central and Eastern European gas markets represented an abuse of its dominant market position and broke EU anti-trust rules.

Romania produces about 11 billion cubic metres of gas a year, covering about 75 per cent of its own annual needs. It imports the rest from Russia.

Bulgaria consumes about 3 billion cubic meters of natural gas, 95 percent of which is imported from Russia, and the majority of that comes through Ukraine which is seen as an unreliable transit country. It has been cut off from Russian supplies twice, in 2006 and 2009.

Both countries have been seeking to diversify its gas supply by building interconnection links with neighbours.