BRATISLAVA – Implementing an agreement to construct a gas interconnector between Bulgaria and Greece, which is likely to be signed in early July, is important for the energy security of Southeast Europe, Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov told New Europe in an interview.
“It’s very, very important to be implemented as soon as possible and constructed as soon as possible and even to discuss increasing the capacity of it,” Mitov said on the sidelines of the 10th GLOBSEC forum, Slovakia’s flagship international conference, in Bratislava on June 20.
He stressed that the Greece-Bulgaria-Interconnector (IGB) is the beginning of the energy diversification and independence in southeast Europe so Athens and Sofia need to implement the project as soon as possible. “It’s been there for quite a long time. We’re only talking about it until this moment but now the urge to be built is huge, it’s enormous and everyone’s energy future depends on this project,” he said.
Bulgaria’s top diplomatic envoy said IGB will connect with the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) that will bring Azerbaijani gas from the Caspian region to Europe and it relates to liquefied natural gas (LNG). “The LNG terminals which will be built in Greece for us and the whole region of Southeastern Europe are extremely important because the gas from different sources will arrive there and we will have the possibility to have competition and diversification,” Mitov said.
He noted that IGB’s planned capacity is not enough. “That’s why I’m talking about extending the capacity for it,” he said. “We will talk about this with the European Commission, with our Greek colleagues. I think there could be formed a consensus around this because when we interconnect with Romania – when we actually make the interconnection reversible because we’re interconnected but it’s one direction until this moment – when we interconnect with Serbia that will already give the capacity through the networks of all our neighbours to deliver gas to West and North,” Mitov added.
The Bulgarian foreign minister also slammed the Turkish Stream pipeline that Greece agreed to extend though its territory to Europe, saying that the Russian-backed project is not economically viable. “I don’t think that it makes any kind of sense for the European Union,” he said.
Mitov said the cancelation of South Stream was a blessing in disguise. “Greece will have the Southern Gas Corridor which is pretty important and it is adding up to the energy diversification of Europe. We have the infrastructure for the Russian gas. We don’t need to do anything else but to assure that we will buy on prices which are competitive,” Mitov said, adding that Bulgaria is one of those countries paying more than anyone else for Russian gas. He added that most Eastern European countries are paying more than the Western countries “because of the monopoly which Gazprom has in our markets”. “We need to work on that and don’t call the bluffs which every single time are put out there when we have the firm conviction that we need to reach diversification,” Mitov said. “This was the case with South Stream which basically killed Nabucco West. Now, Turkish Stream has the potential to threaten the South Gas Corridor.”
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