Bulgaria and Greece agreed on the construction of a pipeline that will allow Bulgaria to import natural gas from the Caspian Sea region, energy officials said Tuesday, AP reported.
Bulgaria's state-owned Energy Holding on Tuesday signed an agreement with Greek natural gas monopoly DEPA and Italy's Edison SpA on setting up a company to construct and operate the pipeline, and a second company to supply and make commercial use of the natural gas.
The link, dubbed Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria, or IGB, will allow Bulgaria to import 1 billion cubic meters of gas from Azerbaijan each year from 2012 through the ITGI pipeline due to carry Caspian gas via Turkey and Greece to Italy.
The Interconnector Turkey-Greece-Italy, or ITGI, pipeline has been strongly supported by the United States as alternative supply to Russian gas. The Greek-Turkish section of the pipeline was inaugurated in late 2007.
Costs for the IGB pipeline - a 160-kilometer (256-mile) link between Komotini in Greece and Stara Zagora in Bulgaria - are estimated at euro120 million ($168 million) with some euro45 million ($63 million) of it to be provided by the European Union.
Bulgaria's Energy Holding also agreed with Greece's gas grid operator DESFA to use the capacity of a Greek liquified natural gas terminal near Athens to import gas.
Bulgaria, which was among the worst hit countries from the gas row between Russia and Ukraine in January, is trying to reduce its almost total dependence on Russian gas supplies.
On Monday, Bulgaria and four other countries agreed to route the Nabucco pipeline across their territories which will link Europe to gas resources in Central Asia and the Middle East.
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