Europe avoids Russian monopoly

Europe avoids Russian monopoly

Baku, Azerbaijan, April 23

By Aygun Badalova - Trend:

The countries most dependent on Russian fuel are looking for a way out, amid Russia's efforts to promote its new pipeline project to supply gas to Europe and open threats to deprive the EU of the only current gas source.

This is where Azerbaijan comes in.

Bulgaria has recently signed an agreement with Romania and Greece to build a link among the countries' natural gas grids. The new link, called "Vertical gas corridor", will be designed to provide the country with alternative fuel supply - Azerbaijani gas.

This agreement can be seen as the reluctance of the European countries to follow Russia's tastes and jeopardize its energy security.

"We are finally getting a new source of gas because until now we were totally reliant on one source - Russia," Bulgaria's Deputy Energy Minister Zhecho Stankov said.

Such enthusiasm in Stankov's words is explainable. Bulgaria is a country that is 95 percent dependent on Russian gas imports. According to BP, the gas consumption amounted to 2.6 billion cubic meters in Bulgaria in 2013.

With the implementation of the Vertical Corridor project, in particular, with the construction of its Bulgarian-Greek section (Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria, IGB), namely Bulgaria, will become the first European country to receive Azerbaijani gas.

The issue of possibly starting the gas supply to this country in 2016 was discussed during the visit of Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev to Azerbaijan in September 2014. That time, the sides were talking about the supply of 200-300 cubic meters of gas per year.

The gas supplies via the Vertical Corridor are expected to start in 2018. The pipeline's capacity hasn't been specified. However, 1 billion cubic meters of gas will be transported via the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria, according to the previous information. It is expected that this gas pipeline will be able to ensure the reverse gas supplies as well.

Linking of the natural gas grids of such countries as Bulgaria, Greece and Romania will allow to ensure the supply of Azerbaijani gas further - to the South-Eastern European countries as well. The gas from Romania can be delivered to Moldavia and Hungary with which Romania's gas grid has been linked.

The Vertical Corridor is being implemented as part of the Southern Gas Corridor project, and it will become a part of the Trans-Adriatic pipeline for supplying Azerbaijani gas through Greece, Albania and further - to Italy.

It is expected to start the gas transportation via TAP in 2020. Nevertheless, the implementation of the IGB project and connecting of the existing systems to it can allow to supply Azerbaijani gas to the European market earlier than 2020.

Edited by SI

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Aygun Badalova is Trend Agency's staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @AygunBadalova

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