Thursday, 08 December 2016 09:17
Anna Nicklin, Editorial Assistant
According to a news statement from ICGB – the joint venture building the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB) natural gas pipeline – five offers were submitted for the use of the pipeline on a long term basis for the binding phase of the market test.
IGB is estimated to cost approximately €220 million (US$235 million). The pipeline will transport gas with a total capacity of 4.3 billion m3 of natural gas. According to the statement, the second phase of the market test saw capacity amount to 2.7 billion m3, of which 1.57 billion m3 are reserved. It is expected that the IGB pipeline will connect to the Trans Adriatic pipeline (TAP) to, in turn, allow Bulgaria to receive Azerbaijani gas.
Due to the evident interest from companies, there is ongoing discussion regarding the possibility of initiating a procedure for allocation of the remaining capacity respectively for participation of new shippers.
SeeNews reported: “According to the procedure, the market test will be completed with the implementation of the advanced reservation capacity agreements by the companies which submitted the offers, upon approval of the relevant allocation by the national regulators of Greece and Bulgaria.”
Upon the request of bidders, in October of this year, ICGB extended the deadline for submitting binding offers in the second stage of the market test to 30 November. During the first bidding round ICGB received nine non-binding offers. Three shareholders in IGB, as well as Austria’s OMV, Greece’s Gastrade, US Noble Energy and Azerbaijan’s SOCAR, have expressed an interest.
Bulgarian state-owned company, BEH, has a 50% stake in the joint venture (ICGB) that is building the IGB pipeline. Greek state energy firm, DEPA, and Italy's Edison hold 25%.
Bulgaria and Greece agreed to build the 182 km pipeline last year to help Sofia cut its almost total dependence on Russian gas. The pipe will connect the northeastern Greek city of Komotini with Stara Zagora in southern Bulgaria. As noted previously, the pipe will eventually be connected to the TAP, which will carry Azeri gas to Europe through Greece.
According to EurActiv, until recently, Bulgaria has been criticised by the Commission for lacking political will that is needed for building interconnectors. However, Bulgaria plans to import 1.5 billion m3/y of gas from the Southern gas corridor once it has begun supplying Azeri gas to Europe in 2020.