The opening ceremony of the Greece-Bulgaria Interconnector (IGB), another route to transport gas to Europe from Azerbaijan, which has proven itself as a reliable energy supplier, was held on October 1.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Bulgarian Prime Minister Galab Donev, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev, Serbian President Aleksander Vucic, Northern Macedonian President Stevo Pendarovski, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca participated in the event.
The gas interconnector started commercial operation at 7 a.m. on October 1. The commissioning of the gas pipeline coincided with the first day of the new gas year and the beginning of the heating season. Bulgaria will be able to initially receive contracted 1 billion cubic meters of gas from Azerbaijan through IGB, the throughput capacity of which is 3 billion cubic meters per year, with the possibility of increasing it by another 2 billion cubic meters.
Co-owner of the Dutch consultancy VEROCY and an expert on political risk and energy Cyril Widdershoven told Trend that the launch of IGB is important amid the serious pressure on energy security.
“The importance of establishing new interconnections is now clear, as the security of energy supply is under serious pressure. Expanding energy interconnections in Europe, especially in the Balkans and Southeast Europe, is a necessity. The lack of interconnections is still a serious threat to the uninterrupted supply of oil, gas and even electricity,” he said.
Widdershoven noted that the presence of interconnectors allows stronger common ties and provides possible additional routes by which energy resources can reach different markets in the region.
“Unlike Northwest Europe, which has a large number of interconnectors, the region of Southeast Europe is still less developed, so it’s currently at high risk. The region’s energy map is also changing for the better, as more interconnectors will increase the supply needed in the rest of Europe,” he explained.
S&P Global Commodity Insights energy analyst Ornela Figurinaite stressed that the IGB will be able to cover most of Bulgaria’s gas demand in the winter season and will allow gas exports to neighboring countries.
She noted that the launch of the interconnector between Greece and Bulgaria will provide much-needed diversification and security of gas supplies to a region that has historically been heavily dependent on Russian gas.
“Since gas supplies from Russia to Bulgaria stopped in May and a new contract has not yet been agreed upon, Bulgaria’s gas storage capacity (approximately 0.5 billion cubic meters) is not enough to cover the heating needs of the winter season. Considering that during the heating season Bulgaria’s gas consumption increases to 10 million cubic meters per day, 8 million cubic meters per day of additional storage capacity which will be available through IGB will be able to cover most of the demand in winter and ensure sufficient filling of storage in summer months,” Figurinaite added
The launch of this project is another example of the fact that Azerbaijan always keeps its word regardless of the circumstances. The contract on gas supply through IGB was signed in 2013, then there was a completely different market configuration. And now, when the energy map of Europe is changing amid the crisis, Azerbaijan ensures uninterrupted supply of energy resources, and in addition, is ready to increase exports even more in a short time. Azerbaijan remains a reliable partner in both good and bad times.