Bulgaria launched on February 1 the construction of the natural gas link with Serbia that should be completed in October, the presidency in Sofia said in a statement. Bulgaria’s President Rumen Radev and his Serbian peer Aleksandar Vucic attended the launching ceremony.
The 170-km pipeline between Novi Iskar in Bulgaria and Nis in Serbia should become operational by October 2023 and will help diversify gas supply in the region.
The construction of the Bulgaria-Serbia Gas Interconnection on Serbian territory started in February 2022. On Bulgarian territory, the pipeline is 65 km long.
It will have capacity of up to 1.8bn cubic metres (bcm) a year. with the possibility of reverse flow as well.
“The gas connection with Serbia is a pledge for the future and an expression of the will of our countries not only to develop bilateral relations, but to jointly build a vision of a common European future based on solidarity, mutual trust and support, innovative approaches and new technologies,” Radev said at the ceremony.
When the pipeline starts operations, Bulgaria will get “expanded access to European markets, and Serbia will gain access to new sources of gas through the Southern Gas Corridor and the liquefied gas terminals in the Aegean Sea, thanks to the recently commissioned interconnector between Bulgaria and Greece, as well as the agreement of our country with Turkey for access to their liquefied gas terminals,” the statement from the Bulgarian presidency added.
Currently, Serbia receives gas only from Russia, but has already launched talks with Azerbaijan in an attempt to diversify its suppliers.
Vucic also commented on the importance of the interconnection for the two countries and for the region. "Bulgaria is a good and reliable friend, not only in good times, but also in difficult times," Vucic said.
The interconnection is financed by the Connecting Europe Facility, and European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simpson stressed its importance for energy security in the region.
"We are proud that the European Commission is supporting the implementation of this project, which will support energy independence and diversification in the region," Simpson said in a video address.