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10 Jun 11

Bulgaria, Turkey Agree to Speed Up Gas Grid Connection

Bulgaria and Turkey have agreed to speed up the construction of a gas grid interconnection between the two countries, their energy ministers said on Thursday.

Novinite (Sofia Press Agency)

Bulgarian Energy Minister Traicho Traikov met on Thursday with his Turkish counterpart Taner Yildiz in Kayseri, Turkey, where they took part in the signing of the Project Support Agreements (PSAs) between Nabucco Gas Pipeline International GmbH and the responsible ministries of the pipeline's five transit countries.


"The PSAs give better guarantees for the sustainability of key factors for Nabucco like the legal framework, the procedures, etc., they make it more bankable and pave the way for securing the funding. The implementation schedule for the gas pipeline makes us reiterate the importance of a speedy construction of a gas grid interconnection that will allow us to achieve true diversification and access other sources of gas supplies," Minister Traikov stated.


The Bulgarian expert working group on the project recommends building the gas link in the most economically profitable way, without commitments to the specifications of the Nabucco gas pipeline. As a result, the gas interconnection will not be a rival to Nabucco because of its totally different scale and terms for implementation, the group says.


The Nabucco pipeline project intends to bring gas to Europe via Turkey, in an effort to limit Russia's influence on Europe's gas supply.


Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria are all involved in the project, which will bring gas from Turkey's eastern borders to a hub in Vienna, taking supplies from Azerbaijan, Iraq and Turkmenistan.

The 3,300 km pipeline would run from eastern Turkey to eastern Austria, via Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary, pumping about eight billion cu m annually when it starts operation and 31 billion cu m when it reaches maximum capacity.

After a series of delay and doubts about the pipeline's future, officials now say that it is expected to deliver the first gas supplies in 2017. The cost of the project is estimated at €7.9 billion, but many experts say this is expected to rise.


At their meeting on Thursday, Bulgarian Minister Traikov said that his country's state power utility NEK will begin executing the contracts for electricity exports to Turkey in July, adding that this restarted for the first time after a nine-year break. According to the minister, the system is currently operating in test mode.


Another topic on the agenda of the meeting were the nuclear programmes of both countries, including the projects for new nuclear power plants.


Minister Traikov briefed his Turkish counterpart on the ongoing debates in the EU on the development of the sector and Bulgaria's call for the introduction of stringent and objective common standards about nuclear safety to be applied by EU member states and neighbouring countries.

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