Sofia, August 27, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Clive Leviev-Sawyer of The Sofia Globe
Bulgaria’s much-postponed gas inter-connector pipeline with Romania has run into a new delay, with the company picked to drill under the Danube River reluctant to sign a contract, a report by news website Mediapool.bg claimed on August 27.
Initially slated for completion by mid-2013, the project has been beset by technical difficulties, with the previous contractor – a consortium of Romanian companies – losing valuable equipment in the caverns under the river and forced to pay damages for its failure to complete the work on schedule, the report said, quoting people familiar with the matter.
Earlier this year, the Bulgarian gas grid operator Bulgartransgaz called a public tender to pick a new contractor, choosing a Bulgarian company to build the 2.1km stretch under the river for 4.6 million euro. Three other candidates that put in bids, including a French and a Bulgarian consortium, as well as a Romanian firm, were disqualified for failing to meet the tender criteria, the report claimed.
However, the winning bidder has been reluctant to sign the contract, fearing that it would lose it bank guarantees if it runs into the same technical issues that dogged the previous contractor, Mediapool.bg said.
This could prompt Bulgartransgaz to cancel the tender and call a new one, but the company was uncertain it would be able to draw qualified bidders, according to the report.
Bulgaria must complete the inter-connector by end-2016 or risk losing the nine million euro allocated by the European Commission for the project.