New gas pipeline boosts European bids to ease Russia’s supply

Athens, Greece (AP) — The remote Greek-Bulgarian border in the mountains once formed the southern corner of the Iron Curtain.Today it is the European Union’s regional energy map Relieve Russia’s dependence on natural gas..

A new pipeline, built and tested during the COVID-19 outbreak and scheduled to go into commercial operation in June, will generate a large amount of gas between the two countries to generate electricity, fuel industry and heating facilities. It will surely flow.

Following this week’s Moscow decision, energy links will become even more important. Cut off the supply of natural gas To Poland and Bulgaria Demand for ruble payments Due to western sanctions against Ukrainian war..

The 180-kilometer (110-mile) project enables several planned gas-to-country countries with members of the Eastern European Union who want to participate in block access to 27 countries to the global gas market. The first of the connections.

In the short term, it’s a Bulgarian backup.

The pipeline connection will give the country access to the adjacent Greek port importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) and will be able to carry gas from Azerbaijan through a new pipeline system ending in Italy.

This is one of many efforts that Member States are scrambling to edit their energy mix, some returning to high-emission coal and planning to increase production from renewables. I am. Germany, The world’s largest buyer of Russian energyIs considering building an LNG import terminal that will take several years, and Italy, Russia’s other top gas importer, is Reached a deal with AlgeriaAzerbaijan, Angola, Congo gas supply.

European Union wants that ax Russia’s dependence on oil Gas is two-thirds this year and will be completely over five years through alternative sources, wind and solar, and conservation.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine Accelerate changes in EU long-term strategySimon Tagliapietra, an energy expert and researcher at Bruegel, a Brussels-based think tank, said it is adapting to more expensive but more integrated energy among its member states.

“It’s a new world,” he said. “And in this new world, as we think, it is clear that Russia does not want to be part of the international order.”

Talia Pietra added: “The strategy of the last 50 years, especially by Germany, has always been to engage with Russia in terms of energy …. But given what we see in Ukraine and the view of Russia’s international relations, It’s not the kind of country we want to do business with. “

EU policymakers argue that Eastern European members are most dependent on Russian gas, but the size of the market makes the problem easier to manage. Bulgaria imports 90% of its gas from Russia, but consumes only 3 billion cubic meters each year. This is one-thirtieth that of Germany, the main consumer, according to 2020 data from the EU statistic agency Eurostat.

The new pipeline, formally called the Gas Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria, complements the existing European network. Much dating back to the Soviet era, transporting gas west from Russia’s vast energy sector, Moscow needs terribly for its sluggish command economy and western suppliers to help build its pipeline. I asked for funds.

This link runs between the cities of Komotini in northeastern Greece and Stara Zagora in central Bulgaria, providing countries and neighbors with a new grid connection to the expanding global gas market. This includes connections with newly constructed Trans Adriatic pipelines that carry gas from Azerbaijan and suppliers of liquefied natural gas arriving by ship in Qatar, Algeria, the United States and other countries.

In Eastern Europe, up to eight additional interconnects can be built, ranging from Ukraine to Austria.

The € 240 million ($ 250 million) pipeline will carry 3 billion cubic meters of gas annually and will optionally be expanded to 5 billion. It is funded by Bulgaria, Greece and the EU and has strong political support from Brussels and the United States.

On the ground, the project faced multiple stagnations as the supply chain was disrupted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Antonios Mitzalis, executive director of the Greek contractor AVAX, who oversaw the project, said that after construction began in early 2020, receiving special parts and moving personnel quickly became difficult.

Construction was completed in early April, he said, with work and testing at the two measurement stations and software installation in the final stages.

“We had the sequence in mind, but the fact that some of the material didn’t arrive made it reworked and sometimes cost-effective,” says Mitzalis.

Greek Prime Minister Kiriakos Mitsutakis was unable to tour the site last month after being infected with COVID-19. He spoke with Bulgarian counterpart Kiril Petkov on Wednesday to guarantee Greek support.

“Bulgaria and Greece will continue to work together for energy security and diversification, which is strategically important for both the country and the region,” Petkov later tweeted. “We are confident that the IGB will complete successfully on time.”