North Macedonia seeks Bulgaria's assistance: press
Bulgaria stands ready to increase power exports and gas supply to its western neighbour North Macedonia, in a bid to ease the latter's energy plight, Novinite reported on September 5.
The remarks were made by Bulgaria's prime minister Galab Donev during a joint press event in Sofia with North Macedonia's premier, Dimitar Kovachevski. Donev said assistance could take the form of supply from grid operator Bulgartransgaz's gas storage bank in Chiren.
North Macedonia's storage slot could be used to carry regasified volumes from the forthcoming Gastrade LNG project in Greece into its national grid, Donev suggested. The national gas distributor Bulgargaz has booked an annual LNG quota of around 500mn m3 from Alexandroupolis over the next 10 years, according to industry media.
"We very quickly responded to the appeal for help from the Republic of North Macedonia to solve the challenges facing the country in the energy sector," Donev said. "We discussed specific opportunities for electricity and natural gas transmission - both for the needs of industry and for residential users of [North Macedonia]."
Gastrade's 5.5bn m3/yr LNG terminal is due to launch in 2023 and has been included in the EU's Projects of Common Interest register. Bulgartransaz holds a 20% equity stake.
Rolling electricity blackouts have forced North Macedonia to turn to its regional partners, in spite of a decades-long feud with Bulgaria sparked by a clash over historical events claimed by both countries, and what Bulgaria has traditionally seen as a common national identity.
In November 2021, Kovachevski's administration reportedly declared a monthly-long "state of energy" crisis and has since extended the alert on multiple occasions.
Aside from Greek LNG imports, Donev said a working group would look at drawing up a new electricity supply contract for North Macedonia, covering the period ending March 2023. Bulgaria currently expects the contract to cover around 200MWh of power supplies but did not specify how long the contract would last.