IGB launch date reset for first quarter of 2020 in revised project plan

Construction work on the prospective IGB (Greek-Bulgarian Interconnector) has been rescheduled to start within 2018 and the commercial launch set for the first quarter of 2020, according to the project’s latest timeline revision, presented by its contractor, ICGB, to European Commission officials in Brussels late last month.

ICGB presented its revised IGB plan as part of the effort to seek PCI (Projects of Common Interest) classification, which would ensure EU funds. Other European PCI candidate projects were also presented by their developers.

The IGB, whose length and diameter are planned to measure 182 km and 32 inches, respectively, will link Komotini in Greece’s northeast with Stara Zagora in Bulgaria.

Its development schedule has been pushed forward in time on a number of occasions, the latest shift caused by recent elections in Bulgaria.

As a result, a crucial third market test, during which prospective IGB users will need to submit binding offers for capacity reservations, will be rescheduled. Authorities had planned to stage the test in May or early summer.

Temenuzhka Petkova’s return, last week, to the helm of Bulgaria’s energy ministry has been viewed favorably. Regarded as being a staunch supporter of the IGB project, Petkova is expected to move fast in an effort to make up for lost time.

Officials keeping a close watch on the project’s developments believe the IGB will be developed with or without the third market test.

Concurrent progress is also being made on the floating LNG terminal in Alexandroupoli, another prospective gas project in Greece’s north. Gastrade, supporting the project’s development, plans to have completed its FEED (Front-End Engineering and Design) study by late June. Contractors and shipyards are then expected to be commissioned to construct the project’s various segments.

Gastrade is currently also exploring financing options for the project, whose total budget is estimated between 350 million to 370 million euros. Roughly half of this amount is expected to be provided by the company itself. Loans by Greek and foreign banks as well as EU funding will be sought for the remainder.