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Bulgaria and Greece to revive plans for oil pipeline

Bulgaria’s caretaker government and Greece approved two Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) on Wednesday, boosting cooperation between the two countries in terms of natural gas storage and import of crude oil.

Under the first this agreement, Greek suppliers will be able to reserve injection and extraction capacities at the Bulgarian Chiren gas storage facility for a maximum total storage volume of 0.7 TWh, writes Bulgarian state media.

This MoU will be concluded in light of the EU regulation which sets out that any country that does not have underground gas storage facilities on its territory must maintain strategic reserves corresponding to 15 per cent of its annual consumption in another EU country.

In return, Bulgarian gas suppliers registered with grid operator Bulgartransgaz will be able to book slots, storage and regasification capacity of up to 2 TWh per year at Greek liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals.

Under the second MoU, Bulgaria and Greece agreed to examine the possibility of building an oil pipeline from the Aegean port of Alexandroupolis to Burgas on the Black Sea. The pipeline will allow the import of non-Russian crude to Burgas, where Bulgaria’s sole oil refinery, Lukoil Neftochim, is based.

As the EU’s embargo on Russian oil took effect in Decemer, Bulgaria and Greece started talks about reviving the oil pipeline project that bypasses the Bosphorus Strait. Bulgaria has a two-year derogation from EU sanctions, but after that, Sofia could face problems due to the hike in transit fees through the Bosphorus.

The pipeline is intended to entirely replace Bulgaria’s current seaborne imports of Russian crude oil, with a view to completing the pipeline by 2024, the end of Bulgaria’s derogation from the EU’s embargo on Russian oil.

The memorandum will be concluded for 12 months and will enter into force after its ratification by the Bulgarian parliament.

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