This week’s approval by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, of guidelines set for the IGB (Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria) project’s second-round market test, entailing the submission of binding offers by interested parties for pipeline capacity, brings the project one step closer to its actualization.
The project’s development is scheduled to begin within the second half of this year, while its launch is planned for early in the second half of 2018, assuming no more delays hamper the process, as has been the case in the past on the Bulgarian side.
The IGB will feature a 182-kilometer pipeline, 31 kilometers of which will cross Greek territory, running from Komotini, northeastern Greece, to Stara Zagora in Bulgaria, as well as supportive facilities such as metric stations and an operation center.
The project will have an initial capacity of 3 billion cubic meters per year, while provisions will be made for an increase to 5 billion cubic meters per year, if needed, through the installation of a compressor station.
The project will facilitate transportation of natural gas to Bulgaria via various sources, through Greece, with reverse-flow operations available.
According to ICGB AD, the project’s consortium, nine non-binding expressions of interest – for a total capacity of 4.3 billion cubic meters per year from Greece to Bulgaria and roughly one billion cubic meters per year from Bulgaria to Greece – were submitted last April during the market test’s first stage.
The nine firms were Bulgargaz, DEPA (Greece’s Public Gas Corporation), Edison, Socar, Noble Energy, Gastrade, OMV Petrom – the Romanian subsidiary of Austria’s OMV – as well as two Bulgarian distribution companies, Citygaz and the Black Sea Technology Company.
A final investment decision on the IGB’s development will be made once binding offers are submitted, as this stage will determine the project’s sustainability.
The IGB represents the first segment of the “Vertical Corridor” to initially connect the Greek, Bulgarian and Romanian natural gas grids. At a latter stage, this stretch may be extended to reach central European grids, such as Austria’s. The IGB will also facilitate a prospective floating LNG station in Alexandroupoli, northeast Greece.
The prospective gas hub in Alexandroupoli also stands to provide favorable conditions for the utilization of a depleted gas deposit in the Gulf of Kavala as an underground natural gas storage facility.