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Romania’s former minister asks European Commission to ensure speedy launch of IGB

Oil&Gas Materials 17 August 2022 12:31 (UTC +04:00)
Romania’s former minister asks European Commission to ensure speedy launch of IGB
Laman Zeynalova
Laman Zeynalova
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BAKU, Azerbaijan, August 17. Romania’s former energy minister Razvan Nicolescu has sent a letter to the EU Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson, asking to take measures to speed up the launch of the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB), Trend reports via Romanian media.

“On December 10, 2014, in my capacity as Romanian Minister of Energy at the time, I launched together with my counterparts from Greece and Bulgaria the European project of the Vertical Corridor, which aimed to diversify the routes and especially the sources of natural gas supply for our region, through access to the Greek LNG terminals and to the gas produced in Azerbaijan. The launch took place at the headquarters of the European Commission, in the presence of the Vice-President of the European Commission for the Energy Union, Maros Sefcovic. We were all determined and optimistic that we would generate alternative sources for European consumers and for those from the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, two neighboring countries integrated into our market through membership of the South-East European Energy Community Treaty.

The first stage in the realization of this project was the realization of the reverse flow between Bulgaria and Greece, which should have been realized in the first three years after the signing in December 2014. The changes of government in the two EU countries, the lack of will of the Bulgartransgaz management to respect the agreements assumed as well as the inactivity of the specialized services of the European Commission in fulfilling their duties of monitoring the implementation of European objectives and related legislation, including the one regarding the prevention of abuses of a dominant position, made the project still non-functional today . Fortunately, the most technically complicated part (BRUA) of the Vertical Corridor was completed by Romania in the assumed time and within the allocated budget.

This inefficiency in pursuing the achievement of the EU’s general objectives, combined with the rapid development of other infrastructure projects (the extension of Turkstream through Bulgaria to Hungary) have aggravated the dependence of European consumers in our region on a single source of supply (Gazprom) instead of reducing it, as we proposed in 2014.

These projects and actions were carried out, including, with the participation of the European companies Bulgartransgaz (Bulgaria) and FGDZ (Hungary). As someone who has dedicated an important part of his career to serving the interests of the European Union, including as President of ACER, it is difficult for me to accept this lack of action on the part of the European Commission services. The objectives and rules must be respected in the EU by everyone.

As you probably know, the bottlenecks in the European natural gas infrastructure are as big a problem as the supply shortage.

Considering the above, I ask you to start a quick procedure to verify the compliance of Bulgartransgaz’s actions with European legislation. A new winter is approaching. Eight years have passed and there is no more time for stories,” reads the letter.

The IGB project is of key importance for increasing security of supply and for ensuring diversification of natural gas sources for Bulgaria and the region of Southeast Europe. At the regional level, IGB will provide access to the gas transmission network for Bulgarian municipalities and regions that didn’t have an option for connectivity. The interconnector with Greece is an entirely new route for the transmission of natural gas to Europe and will give Bulgaria and the region access to supplies from new sources. The project will connect the country with the Southern Gas Corridor and has excellent synergy with other major energy projects such as TAP, TANAP, EastMed and the LNG terminal at Alexandroupolis.

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