Key steps in a couple of aspects towards the realisation of the Interconnection Bulgaria – Serbia have been made over the past days.

On 30 September 2020 the Managing Authority of the Operational Programme Innovations and Competiveness (OPIC) approved close to BGN 5,5 million meant for the completion of the preparatory activities up to the award of the building permit for the Bulgarian section of the Interconnection Bulgaria – Serbia (IBS). An administrative contract will be signed on 06.10.2020 between Bulgartransgaz EAD in its capacity of a Beneficiary and the Directorate General “European Funds for Competitiveness” in its capacity of Managing Authority of the OPIC. OPIC financial assistance is designed to help the completion of the preparatory activities up to the issuance of the building permit for the construction of the gas interconnection: completion of the field archaeological studies, changes, coordination and approval of the Detailed Spatial Plan – Parcelling Plan, development, coordination and approval of the investment design at a technical design stage, technical design compliance check, acquisition of in rem rights and establishment of easement.

On 1 October 2020 representatives of the Member States adopted the proposal of the European Commission to invest almost EUR 1 billion in the realisation of key energy infrastructure projects. About EUR 28 million of these funds will be awarded for the construction of the Bulgarian section of the gas interconnection Bulgaria – Serbia (IBS); this project is the only one from the gas sector for which financial aid has been earmarked. The decision provides that a total of 10 projects will be financed with European funds, and only 4 of them will see resources for the construction works, one of which is the IBS. A Grant Agreement will be signed by Bulgartransgaz EAD as the Beneficiary and the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) following the decision of the European Commission.

At the same time, on 1 October 2020 a contract for the free of charge transfer of assets under the project has been signed at a cost of almost BGN 3,7 million from the Ministry of Energy to Bulgartransgaz EAD. The company will thus be able to continue with the project realisation by updating in the first place the project documentation with a view to obtaining the building permit and starting at a later stage the works.

The gas interconnection Bulgaria – Serbia (IBS) will link the gas transmission systems of the two countries in the region of Dimitrovgrad. On the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria the section runs on about 62 km, launching near the town of Novi Iskar. The project foresees the procurement of materials, construction works and auxiliary services. The overall project includes apart the pipeline network part of the interconnection technological equipment as well – gas metering station, valve groups and pigging facilities.

The interconnection Bulgaria – Serbia is a project of common interest for the European Union; bearing in mind its regional importance it has been recognised to be one of the priority projects of the Central and South Eastern Europe Gas Connectivity – CESEC initiative. The realisation of the project will contribute to the integration of the markets in the region, the price convergence and the diversification of the sources and routes of natural gas transport to Bulgaria and Serbia. The project is expected to bring as well additional economic benefits thanks to its synergy with the new Interconnection Bulgaria – Greece (IGB). Last but not least, the new interconnection with Serbia will be one of the many steps towards the successful realisation of the Balkan Gas Hub concept, aimed at establishing a liquid, transparent and competitive natural gas market in Bulgaria and the region.

More information on the IBS section on the Bulgarian territory is available here.