Serbia – Bulgaria gas pipeline opened to diversify energy supplies
A 170 km pipeline connector between Serbia and Bulgaria was inaugurated in a ceremony gathering three presidents on 10 December. Pushing the button to open the supply at the Trupale gas station, near Niš were President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, President Rumen Radev of Bulgaria and President Aleksandar Vučić of Serbia, along with Dubravka Đedović, Minister of Mining and Energy in Serbia and Emanuele Giaufret, Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia.
Running from the Bulgarian town of Novi Iskar to the Serbian city of Niš, the pipeline will give Serbia access to liquefied natural gas from Azerbaijan. With a capacity of 1.8 billion cubic meters a year on the Serbian side, the interconnector is a significant development, accounting for 60% of the country's annual gas needs.
The European Union supported the project with an innovative blending of grants totalling €49.6 million and loans of €25 million from the European Investment Bank.
The remaining funds for the €85.5 million project were provided by Serbia. WBIF had initially provided 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. Future-proof gas pipelines supportive of the low carbon transition and transit of decarbonised gas and hydrogen will play a key role.
Gas interconnector works (c) WBIF, June 2023
The inauguration of the Serbia-Bulgaria gas interconnector holds strategic importance, as it diversifies Serbia's energy supply and reduces its dependency on Russian gas.
Emanuele Giaufret, Head of the EU Delegation: "The commissioning of the gas pipeline represents an important milestone in strengthening Serbia’s energy security by diversifying the energy supply. The EU strongly supports the project to end Serbia’s dependence on Russian gas."
Dubravka Đedović, Minister of Mining and Energy in Serbia: "With this interconnector, we are securing alternative gas supplies, apart from the Russian gas." She also celebrated the collaboration that made the pipeline construction possible in just one year.
Rumen Radev, President of Bulgaria: “The interconnector is a guarantee of diversification and security. We are not just connecting our gas transmission networks; the interconnector is a symbol of the increased technological capabilities of our countries, of successful cooperation.”
Currently, Serbia relies on gas supplies from Russia through the Balkan Stream gas pipeline. As a country aspiring to join the European Union, this project aligns with broader European objectives, aiming to enhance energy security by fostering the transition from coal to more sustainable and green energy production.