Start of works on the Bulgarian stretch of Serbia-Bulgaria Gas Interconnector
On 1 February 2023, the Presidents of Bulgaria and Serbia, Rumen Radev and Aleksandar Vučić, the EU Ambassador to Serbia Emanuele Giaufret, the ministers of energy of both countries, and other EU representatives attended in Sofia the start of works to build the Bulgarian stretch of the EU-financed Serbia-Bulgaria gas interconnector. The works on the Serbian territory on the interconnector started exactly one year earlier, in February 2022, and are progressing well.
The new gas interconnector will connect the existing Serbian network in Niš with the Bulgarian network in Sofia. With a length of 109 kilometres on the Serbian side and another 61 kilometers in Bulgaria, the gas interconnector will support regional energy security and diversification of supply, making Serbia less dependent on its current gas sources.
The Serbian stretch of the gas interconnector has been financed by the European Union and the European Investment Bank (EIB) with the blending of €49.6 million EU grant from the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) and €25 million loan (EIB). WBIF had initially provided a technical assistance grant for preparation of the feasibility study.
The Serbia-Bulgaria gas interconnector has been identified in the EU's Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans as one of the flagship projects, fostering the transition from coal to more sustainable and green energy production.
With a pipe diameter of 700 mm and a maximum pressure of 55 bar, the capacity will enable the transfer of 1.8 billion m3 of natural gas per year, which is equivalent to 60% of Serbia's total annual consumption. Finalisation of the pipeline construction in Serbia is planned for late 2023.
Besides Niš, the pipeline in Serbia will also include three other gas metering and regulation stations in Bela Palanka, Pirot and Dimitrovgrad, allowing for these three cities and regions of Serbia – their citizens, schools, hospitals, businesses, to have access to gas supply for heating and industrial production.
Due to a considerably smaller environmental impact and greater flexibility in terms of power production, natural gas comes in as optional transitional fossil fuel towards fully renewable sources. Transition to natural gas would also allow towns and municipalities in Serbia with developed district heating systems to construct high-efficiency, small-scale combined heating and power generating systems.
(c) European Delegation to Serbia
Emanuele Giaufret, EU Ambassador to Serbia: “Today we make another big step in providing energy diversification, energy security and a cleaner environment. The launch on the Bulgarian side of the construction of the gas interconnector will also significantly increase the amount of gas supply to industry and households in Serbia. Serbia will have a greater choice as it will be less dependent on its current sources by having an additional source. Transitions and modernisation need investments. This is another EU investment providing for both in Serbia.”
Aleksandar Vučić, President of Serbia: “It is expected that construction works on both sides of the border would be completed by October 2023 and that gas would start flowing through the interconnector by the end of the year. This will not only diversify gas supplies but also secure the energy future of both countries and the entire region."
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