On Wednesday, the head of the Bulgarian energy regulator said that “the gas pipeline between Greece and Bulgaria, aimed at helping Sofia wean itself off Russian gas,” faced another delay and would not be operational until June 2022.
The coronavirus pandemic and the need for additional environmental assessment of the dam crossing on the Bulgarian section have delayed the construction of the pipeline, said ICGB, which is managing the project.
The € 240 million Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB) pipeline was slated to be ready by the end of 2020, when Sofia’s 25-year agreement with Azerbaijani gas company SOCAR began to import 1 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year.
The IGB, an 182 km pipeline, is being built jointly by the Bulgarian state energy company BEH, the Greek gas company DEPA and Italy’s Edison.
“We have agreed to the ICGB’s request to extend the deadline for starting IGB operations until June 30, 2022,” said Ivan Ivanov, head of Bulgaria’s energy regulator.
The pipeline, with an initial capacity of 3 billion cubic meters per year, is important to Europe’s plans to reduce its dependence on Russian gas as it will be linked to the Trans-Adriatic Gas Pipeline (TAP), the final stage of the named $ 40 billion project. Southern Gas Corridor, through which Azerbaijani gas will be supplied to Europe.