Extension of Turkish Stream via Bulgaria gets green light

Photo: offshoreenergytoday.com

Several days ago Bulgaria successfully completed the third market test for Turkish stream gas pipeline project which makes the outlook for the construction of an extension of Turkish Stream via Bulgaria with a capacity to transit 15.8 billion cubic meters of gas per year higher. Bulgaria’s Premier Boyko Borissov who has the ambition to turn Bulgaria into an important gas center in Europe called this project Bulgarian Stream. Borissov has in mind the extension of the second pipe of the Turkish Stream on Bulgarian territory- from the Bulgaria-Turkey border westward to Serbia.

After the failure of the South Stream gas pipeline project which had to transit 60 billion cubic meters of gas per year through Bulgaria to Europe the Bulgarian authorities now believe that the new project meets the EU requirements and that the project can be made operational in the beginning of 2020, as Bulgaria’s Minister of Energy Temenuzhka Petkova promised.

Experts contend that the idea will be fulfilled, because it also favors Russia’s most important ally in the Balkans-Serbia. EC Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič provided conditional support to this project. If the Bulgarian gas pipeline sells Russian gas to Europe in a new hub which trades with other gas suppliers (not only with Russia) as well, then this is a welcomed development, Maroš Šefčovič said.

The Bulgarian energy company Bulgartransgaz announced that it would sign an agreement on the construction of the Bulgarian section of the gas pipeline once it receives quantities booked by three companies- the Russian Gazprom, the Bulgarian Bulgargaz and the Swiss MET Group. The Bulgarian extension of Turkish Stream will be 484 kilometers long and will include two new compressor stations. The project is estimated at EUR 1.431 billion. Bulgargaz expects to receive nearly EUR 184 million per year from transit fees in the course of 20 years, in order to return its investment. Moreover, the 3 billion cubic meters of gas per year Bulgaria is expected to buy for local consumption may cost less than what this country pays for gas now.

Bulgaria also views the new gas pipeline as a good opportunity to build the important Balkan gas hub on the Black Sea coast which will serve as a European gas exchange and will be a source of revenues for Bulgaria. Until now it was not that clear where this future hub will receive gas from, but the picture is getting clearer.

In power engineering things boil down to strategic geopolitical interests, especially when we are talking about supplies of energy resources from Russia. That is why the political considerations often outweigh the economic ones. Bulgaria is a small country and cannot influence the decisions of the great powers. That is why we cannot rule out the possibility of failure of this project in the context of the current tension between Russia and the West. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said repeatedly that the future of Turkish Stream (including the extension of the project through Bulgarian territory) will depend on whether the EU really wants to allow Russian gas in the Balkans via a new pipe. On the other hand, Moscow is well aware that the Russian pipeline must meet the EU requirements under the so-called Third Energy Package related to the liberalization of gas markets in the European Union.

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

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