Development of the Greek-Bulgarian IGB gas grid interconnector is expected to commence in mid-2018 as documentation concerning two project tenders, one for construction, the other for pipeline procurement, has been finalized, according to sources.
Both tenders are expected to be announced in January, which would enable the project to begin midway through next year, as ICGB, the project’s consortium, currently plans.
A number of key institutions, including the European Investment Bank (EIB), have expressed an interest in the project’s financing. Participation by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) has not been ruled out.
The IGB is expected to be completed by 2020 along with TAP, the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, a project to transport natural gas from the giant Shah Deniz II field in Azerbaijan to Europe, through a route crossing northern Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea, to southern Italy.
State-controlled Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) holds a 50 percent stake in the ICGB consortium, while DEPA, Greece’s public gas corporation, and Italy’s Edison control 25 percent stakes.
The IGB interconnector, a project to measure 180 kilomteres in length and offer a 4.3 bcm capacity with upgrade options, is budgeted at approximately 220 million euros.
Its development promises to offer Azerbaijani natural gas an alternative route into southeast European markets. Procedures are already in motion for an extension to Serbia. The project will also enable LNG supply to regional countries currently subject to limited gas supply and facing major energy security issues.