The “Niš-Dimitrovgrad” gas pipeline should be viewed as part of a wider picture

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The “Niš-Dimitrovgrad” gas pipeline should be viewed as part of a wider picture, as it is planned to connect it with the geographically close future terminal for liquefied natural gas in Alexandroupolis.

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, after visiting the Niš-Dimitrovgrad gas pipeline, stated that this project will not only ensure that gas flows between Bulgaria and Serbia, but will also bring us closer to each other, open the gas market to various sources, and improve energy the security of Serbia.

She added that the gas interconnector between Serbia and North Macedonia is among the projects of the European Union. Her statement raised the question of whether our country can really rely on other sources of gas supply that are not Russian. Or is this another in a series of offers that just sound nice, and which we have listened to. Because if there are conditions for some other black gold to flow through Serbia, and not only that produced in the Russian Federation, why did the war in Ukraine wait for the European Union to take an interest in helping us.

The fact is that the project of building a gas interconnector towards Bulgaria is very important for our country, especially since, as stated by the President of the Republic Aleksandar Vučić, Serbia did not have a gas pipeline until three years ago, but we were supplied only through Bregovo and Hungary, to Pancevo. Then we built one from Zaječar to the north, and now we are building an interconnector to Bulgaria. Vučić also asked to start the gas connection project with North Macedonia as soon as possible, which is extremely important, just as it is important to think about how to connect with Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republika Srpska.

Prof. Dr. Petar Stanojević, long-time state secretary for oil and gas in the Ministry of Mining and Energy and professor at the University of Security, was asked which gas besides Azerbaijani gas will arrive via the Niš-Dimitrovgrad route, as well as what a gas interconnector to North Macedonia would mean for us, he answered for “Politika”, that a month ago the interconnected gas pipeline Greece-Bulgaria (Stara Zagora – Komotini) or IGB, with a capacity of three billion cubic meters of gas per year (when an additional compressor station is built, then up to five billion) was put into operation. This gas pipeline is connected to the “Trans-Adriatic” (TAP) and “Trans-Anatolian” (TANAP) gas pipelines, which transport gas from Azerbaijan, through Turkey and Greece to Italy.

The gas pipeline should be seen as part of a larger picture, as it is envisaged to connect it to the geographically close future liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Alexandroupolis. The gas pipeline should be able to connect with the “Poseidon” and “Istmed” gas pipelines, but these projects are now at a standstill. Through the existing network of Bulgarian gas pipelines, IGB will be connected to Serbia via the future gas pipeline “Nis-Dimitrovgrad-Sofia”. Given that this is a connection with a potential LNG terminal (Alexandropolis), it is assumed that Serbia can get gas from any LNG supplier in the world through this route. If calculated according to the lowest transport costs, it would certainly be Qatar, but also Israel or Egypt when they build LNG terminals for shipping Eastern Mediterranean gas.

– The gas interconnector from Serbia to North Macedonia, Montenegro, BiH, Republika Srpska (RS) is also mentioned. We still supply RS with gas. Today, Serbia is connected by gas pipeline systems with Bulgaria, Hungary and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia and Herzegovina is fully supplied with gas from Serbia, in the same way that we were supplied only through Hungary until recently. All other interconnecting gas pipelines have yet to be built and are still at the level of ideas or partially completed conceptual projects. Almost all of them entered the so-called PECI list of European Union projects, that is, “projects of common interest”. This means that they should be partially financed from EU funds. The projects are also included in the ten-year gas transportation plan approved by the Energy Agency, all in accordance with current legislation.He explained that work on the LNG terminal in Alexandroupolis began this year and is expected to be completed in 20 months. This would mean that from 2024, some quantities of gas could flow from that direction.

Asked how much it costs to build an LNG terminal, how much it would help us in diversifying our supply sources and whether this gas is more expensive or cheaper than natural gas in (non) wartime circumstances, he answered that construction costs vary depending on the type of technology (classic or with floating storage, etc.), capacity, geographical position in relation to the existing gas pipeline network, the need to improve the existing network in order to eliminate bottlenecks…

– The floating terminal in Alexandroupolis costs 360 million euros. When it is built, it will certainly help diversify Serbia’s gas supply, but it should be kept in mind that “Srbijagas” has not shown interest in large quantities from that direction, and that the current capacity of the IGB gas pipeline only allows for the supply of Bulgaria. Larger capacities will appear only after the construction of an additional compressor station. As far as price is concerned, gas is like any other commodity, i.e. it is worth what customers are willing (or able) to pay. In times when it is too expensive, like today, everything pays off for the producers. Until just a few years ago, the price of gas was below 200 dollars for 1,000 cubic meters, and then logistics and other costs were taken into account. There is a rough calculation that shows that if the gas sources are more than 4.

He sees no particular reason why power supply from the direction of Bulgaria, i.e. Alexandroupolis, would not be realistic in the foreseeable future. – If such turbulent conditions remain like today, I would not dare to give forecasts. If some time had “passed”, it is certain that the market competition on the Serbian gas market could begin with the completion of the aforementioned projects and the formal opening of the market to which we committed ourselves earlier – stated Stanojević.

Several reasons for delaying the expansion of “Banatski Dvor”

Asked what are the reasons for delaying the expansion of the “Banatski Dvor” underground warehouse to 800 or one billion cubic meters, prof. Petar Stanojević, Ph.D., answered that the problem used to be the lack of complete project documentation, the high values ​​of bids for works, vagueness about future capacities… and today he believes that there are new problems related to the current situation, Kamatica writes.