Interconnector with Greece has successfully started commercial operation
The President of the European Commission and a number of heads of state welcomed the first quantities of natural gas through the IGB during an official event in Sofia; the gas pipeline became operational on the first day of the new gas year and in time for the new heating season,
The gas interconnector Greece-Bulgaria started commercial operation at 7:00 a.m. on October 1st. The commissioning of the gas pipeline coincided with the first day of the new gas year and the start of the heating season.
The first quantities of natural gas through the interconnector were transited at the beginning of the gas day from the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). IGB successfully connects the national gas transmission networks of Greece and Bulgaria at Komotini and Stara Zagora. The total capacity with which the gas pipeline begins operating is 3 billion cubic meters per year (bcm/y).
The President of the European Commission and a number of heads of state welcomed the first quantities of natural gas through the IGB during an official event held later in the day in Sofia, Bulgaria. The landmark event on the occasion of the commissioning of the IGB was honored by the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, Prime Minister of Bulgaria Galab Donev, the President of the country Rumen Radev, the President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić, the President of North Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski, the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Prime Minister of Romania Nicolae Ciucă.
"Today is of great importance for us - we mark the commercial launch of a strategic energy project, the importance of which goes beyond the national borders of Greece and Bulgaria. With the commissioning of IGB, we are entering a key stage in the development of the region's energy system and taking a huge step forward towards a stronger, more connected and independent Europe," said ICGB Executive Officer Teodora Georgieva. She thanked all parties that contributed to the realization of the project - the shareholders of ICGB, the company's team, the national governments of Greece and Bulgaria over the years, the European Commission and international partners from a number of countries such as Azerbaijan and the USA, as well as the energy regulators of the two countries developing IGB.
"It's no coincidence that the ICGB team and I have been saying over the years that this interconnect is a game-changer. This is the first project in Bulgaria that brings real diversification of natural gas sources and ensures energy independence; the first fully automated gas pipeline in the country, and for its completion we executed the third largest horizontally directed drilling in Europe. IGB will also be Bulgaria's only direct connection with TAP and will make the country part of the Southern Gas Corridor," Georgieva emphasized.
"Today's commissioning of the interconnector marks a new stage in the development of this landmark project between Greece and Bulgaria. Today is the beginning of the new gas year and the beginning of the heating season - I am certain that both business and residential consumers in our home countries will feel the effect of IGB’s launch. This means secure, diversified supplies of natural gas and increased competition on the energy market. Inevitably, this will also have a positive impact on the prices for end consumers," said George Satlas, Executive Officer of ICGB. He pointed out that IGB has been of strategic importance to the region from the moment it was planned. "However, in the new reality - the ongoing war in Ukraine, the growing need across Europe for diversified, secure energy supplies, IGB is taking on an even more significant role that will redefine the positions that our countries have. The cooperation between Greece and Bulgaria in the energy sector, the synergy and the strong relationship we have are becoming a landmark example of Europe's path to energy independence and connectivity," Satlas noted.
On the first working day of IGB, more than 29 171 MWh are expected to enter the gas pipeline, and for the month of October the estimates are for 888 801 MWh. Half of the entire capacity of the interconnector is already booked under long-term contracts of up to 25 years, and the remaining free capacity is available on two independent European platforms as of September 30th. Through the interconnector Bulgaria receives the full quantities under the country’s contract with Azerbaijan for 1 bcm/y.
The gas interconnector between Greece and Bulgaria can have its capacity increased to 5 bcm/y, which will also allow for reverse flow in the direction of Stara Zagora - Komotini. This requires the construction of a compressor station in Komotini, which will be ready in 2024, at the same time as the commissioning of the LNG terminal near the Greek city of Alexandroupolis.
IGB is of key importance for increasing the security of supply and for ensuring the diversification of natural gas sources for Bulgaria, Greece and the region of Southeast Europe. The project will enable secure supplies from a variety of sources to a number of countries in Central and South-Eastern Europe and the Western Balkans, with the possibility of supplies for Moldova and Ukraine as well.
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