Bulgaria to Become Transit Country for Gas from Azerbaijan

Traicho Traikov, Bulgarian Minister for Economics, Energy and Tourism, has announced that 10 billion cubic meters of gas from Azerbaijan will travel through Turkey and Bulgaria on its way to Europe every year. The transport will become possible when the gas pipeline between Turkey and Bulgaria is completed.

According to the contract between Turkey and Azerbaijan, 16 billion cubic meters of natural gas will travel on the pipeline, but 6 billion will stay in Turkey and the rest will be re-exported through Bulgaria to Europe. On the Bulgarian side, the connection between Stara Zagora and Komotino will begin construction in early 2012 and should be completed in less than two years.

Minister Traikov has stated that the aim of the gas pipeline from Turkey, and another connection with Greece, are an answer to the threat of disruption of imports of Russian gas. The aim is to have no supplier for more than 50% of the Bulgarian market, therefore aiming to create a security of supply and boosting energy security. In reminiscence of the Ukraine gas crisis of 2009, the Minister has re-assured the public that Bulgaria has two-months worth of reserves at the depot in Chiren. Yet, the question remains whether the 10 billion cubic meters planned to travel through the country will play a role in energy security or it will be completely re-exported. In case of emergency, Bulgaria might be allowed to siphon-off a certain amount from the pipeline.

Furthermore, an ecological investigation into the impact of the two pipelines remains to be conducted. This is a legal requirement needed to ensure that these gas connections will not have a negative impact on the environment. Still, it is expected that they will receive a green light and construction can begin without set-backs.

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