Bulgaria’s Energy Minister Temenouzhka Petkova and her Greek counterpart Kostis Hatzidakis signed a number of contracts for the Bulgaria-Greece natural gas inter-connector pipeline (ICBG) in Sofia on October 10, most notably for a 110 million euro loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB).
These included contracts with suppliers, but also an inter-governmental agreement that guaranteed unchanged taxation for the pipeline for a period of 25 years.
The project has been repeatedly delayed despite securing EU financing early on, with an investment decision agreement signed in December 2015, more than a year after the initial target for the pipeline’s start of operation.
Earlier this year, ICBG picked Greek company J&P Avax to build the 183km pipeline for 144.85 million euro, with another Greek firm, Corinth Pipeworks Industry S.A., chosen to supply the pipes for the pipeline at a cost of 58.23 million euro. The total cost of the project, according to estimates by Bulgaria’s Energy Ministry, is 220 million euro.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov and then-prime minister Alexis Tsipras attended a ceremony to mark the start of construction in May, but reports in Bulgarian media said that the signing of the EIB loan was delayed by management reshuffles at the Bulgarian Energy Holding, which holds the Bulgarian stake in ICBG.
With the financing secure, Petkova said that every effort will be made to speed up construction so that it is completed within 12 months and the pipeline can begin operations in the second half of 2020, in time for the start of gas deliveries from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz 2 development, from which Bulgaria will be buying one billion cubic metres of gas a year starting next year./ibna
(Photo: Bulgarian Energy Ministry)