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    Bulgaria to Cut Russian Gas Purchases


Russian gas imports in Bulgaria will make way for new suppliers, the Balkan country's energy minister told her US audience.

by: Dalga Khatinoglu

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Bulgaria to Cut Russian Gas Purchases

Bulgaria plans to diversify its gas import sources by end-2020, cutting Russian gas intake by a half and buying Azeri gas and US LNG instead, energy minister Temenuzhka Petkova said in Washington January 28. “The whole demand is expected to stand at 3bn m3/yr, of which a half would come from non-Russian sources,” she said.

The US government has made much of Europe's reluctance to buy US LNG as Russian exports remain strong. The US government was also a major backer of the Southern Gas Corridor, carrying Azeri gas to Turkey and beyond, so it would create competition for Russian gas.

Bulgaria has a contract to import 1bn m3/yr Azeri Shah Deniz stage 2 gas through Southern Gas Corridor, which will be connected to the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (ICGB) this year.

ICGB, the owner of the interconnector announced January 27 that the Greek company Corinth Pipeworks has already made 47 km of linepipe for the project. The 183-km pipeline is projected to be complete by end-2020.

Petkova said December 2019 that from January 1, 2020 the entry point for Russian natural gas supply to Bulgaria had switched to the south of the country: “Bulgargaz will receive natural gas at the Strandzha delivery point, in the southeastern regions”, she said, referring to TurkStream gas pipeline. That line has shipped its first 1bn m3 of gas in 2020, its Russian operator Gazprom said late on January 27.

The 31.5bn m3/yr pipeline running under to Black Sea was officially launched on January 8. Around 54% of the gas pumped so far has been delivered to Turkish consumers, according to Gazprom, while the rest has been shipped to Europe via Bulgaria.

As a result of the agreements reached between Bulgargaz and Gazprom, the delivery prices for household and industrial customers will fall.

Bulgargaz has conducted several tenders and concluded contracts for the supply of LNG in 2019, including from the US, amounting to 403mn m³. The country is also investing in the planned Alexandroupolis LNG terminal in northern Greece. 

Petkova held a number of meetings in Washington, including with Marc Menezes and Frances Fannon of the Energy Department; Dale Tasharski of the Department of Commerce. and representatives of the US LNG industry.