The projects of Bulgaria’s natural gas transmission and storage system operator Bulgartransgaz are key to ensure the diversification of energy sources and the transition to a low-carbon economy in South-Eastern Europe. That’s the main point of view of Bulgartransgaz’s Executive Director, Vladimir Malinov, one of the speakers of the Southeast Europe Energy Forum, which took place in Thessaloniki, Greece.
Current issues of the energy field were discussed in the light of the dynamics of the energy markets and the opportunities and challenges arising from the energy transition and the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Special attention was paid to the importance of improving the energy infrastructure, increasing energy security, diversification and digitalisation.
“One of the first steps to improve the energy interconnectivity in South-East Europe was the increase in capacity at the interconnection point Kulata/Sidirokastro from 1 million cubic metres per day (mcm/d) up to 6,1 mcm/d in the direction to Bulgaria and from 10,1 mcm/d up to 11,1 mcm/d to Greece,” Mr Malinov reminded.
Currently, Bulgartransgaz is working on interconnecting the gas Interconnection Greece-Bulgaria (IGB) to the national network. The capacity at the interconnection point with IGB will be up to 3 billion cubic metres per year (bcm/y) from Greece to Bulgaria and 0,7 bcm/y from Bulgaria to Greece. In parallel, the project for a new gas interconnection Bulgaria-Serbia with a capacity of 1.8 bcm/y with the possibility of a reverse flow is underway as well. The available free capacity at the interconnection point Kireevo-Zaječar amounts to 7,6 mcm/d in the direction from Bulgaria to Serbia and 32,0 mcm/d in the direction from Serbia to Bulgaria.
The development of the project for infrastructure for the transport of hydrogen and low-carbon gaseous fuels in the East Maritsa coal region is also important for Bulgartransgaz. It is part of the draft National Recovery and Resilience Plan and provides for a 125 kilometres gas pipeline, adapted for hydrogen transport. Its implementation is in line with the European Union’s goals for a transition to a low-carbon economy. Until sufficient hydrogen production is achieved, the infrastructure will transport natural gas and other low-carbon gaseous fuels and their mixtures in different proportions.
Mr Malinov also mentioned underground gas storage as an important tool: providing additional storage capacity, a project that is currently underway, will promote natural gas trade, increase market competition and contribute to the functioning of the liquefied gas market. The expansion of the gas storage facility is in synergy with the project for a liquefied natural gas terminal near Alexandroupolis and will enable gas traders and customers in the region to benefit fully from the dynamic developments and the competitive advantages, provided by the LNG market. Mr Malinov reminded that Bulgartransgaz has already finalised the transaction and has been entered as a shareholder with a 20 per cent share in the project company for the construction of the terminal.
All of the listed projects, on which the Bulgarian gas transmission operator has been working consistently in recent years, aim to help achieve energy efficiency, security and economic growth in the region of South-East Europe and stimulate regional development and integration.