Serbia gets new gas infrastructure to Bulgaria, but there is no gas

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As things stand now, Serbia will get new gas infrastructure to the border with Bulgaria in a year and a half, which we started building today. The only thing is that there is no gas, so the pipes will remain empty.

That is why one day that gas interconnection, if and when gas passes through it with a small amount of 1.8 billion cubic meters per year, which is its capacity, will only be able to serve as a reserve. According to energy experts, the editor of the “Energy of the Balkans” portal, Jelica Putniković, that is not an option that means opting for another gas instead of Russian.

After more than three decades of the idea and 21 years since the signing of the construction agreement, works on the gas interconnection between Serbia and Bulgaria began today, which should enable gas supply from that direction and new sources. First of all, from the terminal near the Greek city of Alexandroupolis on the northeastern coast of the Aegean Sea.

Interconnection with Bulgaria as a reserve

By October 2023, the 109-kilometer two-way gas pipeline from Nis to Dimitrovgrad should be completed, and whether that will mean a safer supply of natural gas in our country and the region, as officials announced, is ungrateful to predict. Not only because the capacity of the Serbian-Bulgarian gas interconnection is a modest 1.8 billion cubic meters of gas a year, but also because the Bulgarian side has not yet started work on its section from the border near Dimitrovgrad to Sofia, 60 kilometers long, although The European Union determined the funds for it ten years ago. Also, the Bulgarians have not yet completed the gas interconnection with Greece, and Greece is not yet working on the terminal, whose delivery capacity would be 5.5 billion cubic meters per year. So, everything is on a long stick.

And where is the gas

Putniković points out for Sputnik that the very fact that the project has not been realized for so long, indicates its nature. Not only there was no infrastructure, but there was no gas to be transported from that direction.

“He is not here today. The political statements mention that in that way we will be connected to the TAP gas pipeline, which is a continuation of the TANAP gas pipeline, which carries gas from the Azerbaijani deposit in the Caspian Sea. However, that gas is already reserved in advance, there is no capacity there. “There is no gas that could reach Serbia in the foreseeable future, unless a new larger deposit is found there,” says our interlocutor.

The terminal in Alexandroupolis, which is about 40 kilometers from the border with Turkey, is not working yet, although the European Union approved 166.7 million euros of support to Greece for its construction last year.

It is a floating terminal for liquefied natural gas in the sea near Alexandroupolis, which includes certain underwater infrastructure for gas delivery to the mainland, as well as a network of gas pipelines that would deliver gas from Greece to Bulgaria, Northern Macedonia, Serbia, Romania and Ukraine.

Apart from the fact that Bulgaria did not complete the interconnection with Greece, they, according to Putnikovic, did not strengthen their gas pipeline system to transport gas to Serbia towards Sofia and further towards Dimitrovgrad. Bearing in mind that TAP, ie TANAP and the terminal in Alexandroupolis are the two most realistic options to have some gas, it is clear why it is certain that this will not be feasible until October 2023, when our gas connection is planned to be completed. editor of the “Energy of the Balkans” portal. According to her, we could not count on that in the next five or six years.

Mediterranean gas on an even longer stick

The third option, that the gas pipeline flows from the Levant Mediterranean basin between Israel and Cyprus, whose capacity is even more modest than the Greek terminal and amounts to four billion cubic meters of gas, is the least probable.

“What is the latest information is that Israel, which is an investor, is negotiating with Egypt to transport that gas to Egypt, because it already has gas terminals built for liquefying natural gas.” He would then send it to consumers, maybe to Alexandroupolis, or Omišalj on Krk, or some other LNG terminal in Europe, but it’s all on a long stick, because neither gas exploitation has started in the Mediterranean, nor gas pipelines have been built, “he explains. Sputnik’s interlocutor.

She notes that all the capacities we are talking about are significantly below the “Balkan Stream”, which supplies us with 12 billion cubic meters of Russian gas a year. He adds that his possibilities are even greater, and when a new long-term gas arrangement is negotiated with Russia, we can redefine the needs for gas in the coming years and satisfy all our needs.

Brussels’ insistence on a geopolitical project

That security in the supply of Russian gas is also assessed by the Bulgarians, who, Putnikovic notes, started building the interconnection between Bulgaria and Greece before the “Balkan Stream” began to work, as a continuation of the “Turkish Stream” through Bulgaria. And then they reoriented themselves to “Balkan Stream” and quickly completed the gas pipeline to Serbia, she points out.

The fact that the European Union has allocated significant funds not only for the construction of terminals in Greece, but also for the construction of gas interconnection both through Bulgaria and Serbia, in her opinion, also speaks of the nature of this project.

Brussels insisted on the Bulgaria-Serbia gas interconnection and the gas terminal, but not for altruistic reasons to help Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia have a gas supply, but to reduce gas supplies from Russia. It is a geopolitical project, she says, emphasizing that Europe insists on the influence of America at the Alexandroupolis terminal.

On the other hand, even if that terminal is built, the question is what the price of gas will be and whether it will pay off for America, which constantly promises its gas to Europe, to sell it cheaper in Europe, instead of forcing tankers to Asia. gas is much more expensive. Due to the energy crisis this winter, we had a situation where gas on the stock exchanges in Europe was more expensive than in Asia, and some quantities of gas from America were redirected to European consumers, “our interlocutor reminds.

Therefore, it is only certain that when the gas interconnection with Bulgaria starts, it will be practically a reserve with small amounts of gas, Sputnik writes.