Bulgaria’s Premier Boyko Borissov visited again Turkey on Monday to participate at the 22nd World Petroleum Congress. Earlier Premier Borissov paid another official visit to Istanbul in June. Boyko Borissov has been following an active energy policy line in all three mandates. However, that policy requires strong international cooperation due to the country’s limited natural resources. In Istanbul the Bulgarian Premier discussed with Bulgaria’s strategic partners the priorities of the Bulgarian cabinet in the energy field.
In his speech to the participants of the World Petroleum Congress Borissov pointed out that the project for European gas distribution center (hub) Balkan was of huge importance, because it would diversify significantly the gas supplies to Europe. Borissov underlined that the Balkan gas hub would envisage distribution of gas supplies from Bulgaria, Romania, Russia and Azerbaijan and reminded that some of the world’s biggest energy companies have been prospecting the Bulgarian section of the Black Sea for oil and gas.
Premier Borissov presented the idea about the Balkan gas hub in a moment when Turkey is about to become a regional leader in gas storage. That country will increase its annual gas storage capacity to 11 billion cubic meters by 2023 when it boosts the capacity of the gas storage facility under Tuz Lake. Besides, in May this year the Russian energy giant Gazprom launched the construction of the Black Sea section of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline. That pipeline will cross the bottom of the Black Sea and will connect the European part of Turkey with Greece. Premier Borissov told his Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim that the future construction of the gas interconnection between Bulgaria and Turkey was an important step forward. Talks about that interconnector have been held for a long time now, but unfortunately its construction has not been completed yet. Premier Borissov assured that his cabinet would support actively the development of the Southern Gas Corridor. Together with the Northern Gas Corridor (also known as the Norwegian Corridor), the Eastern Gas Corridor and the Mediterranean Gas Corridor that supplies Europe with gas from Africa the Southern Gas Corridor will be the fourth large network for gas supplies to the European Union. Turkey is a key transit country in the Southern Gas Corridor. However, that gas corridor also envisages transit routes through the Black Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean.
Premier Boyko Borissov also participated at a multilateral meeting with the President of Turkey Recep Erdogan, the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, Serbia’s head of state Aleksandar Vucic and Albania’s Premier Edi Rama to discuss topics related to the diversification of the gas supplies in the region. Bulgaria deserves to be part of that format, because nearly 80% of all gas compression stations in the Balkans are located on Bulgarian territory.
At the meeting in Istanbul with Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, PM Borissov confirmed the willingness of Bulgaria for cooperation with Russia in expanding national gas infrastructure in line with EU rules. Borissov also voiced the government's plans to resume the Belene nuclear power plant project, provided that a strategic private investor was found.
Actually, in Istanbul the Bulgarian Prime Minister did not reveal any new priorities but shed more light on already known intentions at the backdrop of changed political realities in Sofia and the new coalition government. However, realization of these priorities depends on a number of geostrategic realities, which had previously hampered it. Progress in realization of projects continues to depend mainly on the international situation to the east of Bulgaria.
English version: Kostadin Atanasov