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We Might Smell Azeri Gas Virtually


Bulgaria will receive natural gas from Azerbaijan from the beginning of next year. The statement was made by Prime Minister Boyko Borisov during an inspection of the construction of the gas connection between Greece and Bulgaria. Indeed, an Azeri blue fuel is expected to flow through this connection one day but not from the beginning of 2021. Due to a delay of the interconnector construction, the country will temporarily change the trading point of the natural gas supply, Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova explained these days.


In fact, there is one option for delivering Azeri fuel, which is actually feasible in a month and a half, but experts mention it with a slight turmoil. And the explanation is simple – at the moment Bulgaria can receive fuel from Azerbaijan through the gas connection with Turkey between the compressor stations "Malcochlar" and "Strandzha". From there, however, deliveries along the Turkish Stream, called Balkan, are expected.

Swap deals

 

The other entry point is on the reverse gas pipeline in Greece between Kulata and Siderokastro. It was through this connection last year that Bulgargaz purchased quantities of natural gas delivered to the Revitusa LNG terminal near Athens. But it is mainly for deliveries from Bulgaria to our southern neighbor and the opposite option is used only in case of need or accident. It is not excluded that Azeri natural gas can be temporarily delivered through this reversible pipe.

 

There is a third option - virtual fuel deliveries. For example, Bulgargaz should receive 1 billion cubic meters of Azeri fuel but these supplies may not reach the Bulgarian gas transmission system, they may be purchased on the basis of documents only. Roughly speaking, Bulgargaz will deduct the same quantities from another supplier for the domestic market instead of passing them on to Greece. And the quantities of Azeri gas will be physically delivered to Greece. This is how the virtual trade on the gas market in our country is currently carried out.

However, it is yet to be known whether this is the idea that will be realised after January 1.

 

Through this mechanism in a calm atmosphere we will be able to make swap deals - we hold 3 million for our client, who is on the territory of our country or in the north and the so-called Azeri gas remains for the Greek consumers. When we want larger quantities, a reverse will have to be made in order not to disturb the balance, energy expert Prof. Atanas Tasev explained to BNR. In his words, no one is interested in Bulgaria as a market with its consumption of 3 billion cubic meters of gas per year. We're interesting as a transit country. "Our national interest is to have pipes full of gas, to have guaranteed gas supplies and not to cut our pipes into scrap," the professor noted.

 

Connections lag

 

The interconnector with Greece has been talked about since 2012, but work on it on the ground began about two years ago. So far, 104 km of pipes have been spread along the route. More than 146 km of the 182 km stretch has been cleared. The interconnector with Greece has been talked about since 2012 but real work on the field began about two years ago. So far, 104 km of pipes have been spread along the route. More than 146 km of the 182 km stretch has been cleared. Since the beginning of October, the contractors have been trying to speed up and there is already over 73 km of welded linear part. The main contractor, AVAX, has already started excavation work on the trench, as well as the very laying of the already welded pipes. On the territory of the two countries there is over 18 km of pipeline laid.

 

Along with the coronavirus, however, these activities were delayed and it is now impossible to catch up. Therefore, the specialists predict that the interconnector can be completed as early as the middle of the next year. There are also three serious obstacles for the builders. The gas pipeline must pass under Studen Kladenets dam, as well as under the Maritsa River in Haskovo region. This requires serious hydro-technical work, which is just beginning. It is hoped that problems will not arise at either of these two sites, as was the case with the Romanian gas connection between Ruse and Giurgiu, where the pipe broke and Bulgartransgaz's people could not run a new one for almost a year.

The other problem is the construction of a compressor station in the Komotini area. It is vital for the natural gas to actually be pumped along the future gas link. Without such a facility the pipes will remain empty. But so far, no politician or specialist has said anything about the issue, presumably hoping that the Greek partners in the ICGB will do the job in a timely manner.

The LNG terminal near Alexandroupolis will also fill the interconnector

The capacity of the future interconector will be 5 billion cubic meters per year. Apart from Azerbaijan, gas is also expected to come from the future LNG terminal near Alexandroupolis. It will also allow for the supply of blue fuel from new sources, including from liquefied gas exporters such as the US and Qatar.

Recently, the Greek company Gaztrade signed an agreement with the Greek national gas operator DESFA to acquire 20% of the capital and participate in the LNG terminal. Earlier this year, the Bulgarian operator Bulgartransgaz EAD concluded a similar agreement for a 20% stake in Gaztrade, which turned the Bulgarian side into a participant in the project.

a 28 km pipeline is also envisaged to be built, through which the degasified LNG will be delivered to the Greek gas transmission system and to end users in Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, North Macedonia, Romania, Turkey, Moldova, Ukraine and Hungary.

Apart from Qatar and the United States, the Bulgarian government has decided to explore options for possible future natural gas supplies from Israel as well as Cyprus.

Other projects

A boom in gas projects is brewing in Southeast Europe in the coming years. The Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, which will supply Azerbaijani fuel to Europe via Turkey, Greece and Italy, was also recently commissioned.

"Almost four and a half years after the start of the pipeline construction in Thessaloniki, the activities have reached the stage of commercial gas supply operations under the TAP gas transport system", the consortium, which participates in BP said. The total length of the facility is 878 kilometers, 550 kilometers of which pass through the north of Greece, 215 kilometers through the territory of Albania, 105 kilometers through the Adriatic Sea and 8 kilometers through Italy. TAP is the last component of the Southern Gas Corridor project. Prior to that, the Trans-Anatolian project TANAP was built, which connected the gas networks of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.

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