All construction activities of the Gas Interconnector Greece - Bulgaria (IGB) are progressing at a good pace, and construction is expected to be completed within the agreed timeline by the end of 2021, the caretaker Minister of Energy of Bulgaria Andrey Zhivkov said during the visit to a construction site in the region of the border with Greece near the village of Lozengradtsi.
According to him, the location in the border area of the village of Lozengradtsi is the most difficult and complex part of the entire route, with a total length of 182 km. Tough geology, steep mountain slopes, and dense forest areas are just some of the natural challenges that construction teams must overcome in a very short time to complete the work in the complex section of the IGB route. The contractor assured the Minister that it had mobilized the best welding teams, a large number of specialized heavy machinery suitable for this type of mountainous terrain, and expert management staff with many years of experience in the field.
To date, the interconnector route has been completely cleared, over 90% of the delivered pipes have been distributed on site in preparation for further activities. Just under 30 km are left before the entire 182-kilometer route of the IGB is welded. The welding process is progressing with excellent speed, given the complex geographical terrain.
The contract for construction of the interconnector was signed in the last quarter of 2019 and covers working design, delivery of all equipment with a long production period / except for line pipes / and execution of construction works on the linear part and ground facilities, completion testing and commissioning. Due to the slower pace of implementation of major activities caused by the global spread of COVID-19, the contract has been extended, and the completion of the construction commitments is set for the end of 2021.
After the successful completion of the construction activities, a period between 4 and 6 months is required for all legal procedures, issuing licenses, testing, and certification of the gas pipeline before entering commercial operation. It is envisaged that the commercial operation of IGB will take place no later than July 1, 2022.
The IGB is designed to transport blue fuel from Shah Deniz 2 to Bulgaria. Through this pipeline, which will join TAP, Bulgaria will import 1 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year from Azerbaijan. Thus, the state company Bulgargaz EAD has signed a contract with the Shah Deniz consortium to purchase this gas from the Shah Deniz-2 field. Azerbaijan will be able to meet 25-30% of Bulgaria's gas needs. Construction work on the IGB is expected to be completed in the second half of next year.