Balkan countries look to boost energy diversification with multiple interconnection projects

Credit: Wirestock

As most countries in the Balkans are looking to diversify their energy sources for the upcoming years, there have been many interconnection projects that are either in the phase of construction, or implementation. In this article, we take a look at how these countries are planning and implementing these projects.

Bulgaria

The Bulgaria-Serbia Interconnector Gas Pipeline, also known as the IBS Interconnector or the Nis-Sofia Gas Pipeline, is a proposed pipeline in Bulgaria and Serbia, with a proposed capacity of 1.8 billion cubic meters a year and a length of 62 kilometers on Bulgarian territory, and 108 km on Serbian territory. The European Commission is funding the Serbian side with a grant of almost 50 million. The pipeline, which should be operational by 2022, will provide a new supply route from Bulgaria to Serbia, as well as to other parts of the South-East European region, enabling access to liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Greece, Azeri gas from the Southern Gas Corridor, and gas from Black Sea offshore production.

In 2017, Bulgaria and North Macedonia also signed an agreement to carry out a feasibility study for the construction of a new gas interconnection between the two countries. The initiative envisages the establishment of a joint venture between the two countries, which will prepare the project and try to provide funds for its implementation. According to initial estimates, the pipeline would cost from 20 to 25 million euros.

The construction of the Bulgaria — Greece gas interconnector (IGB Interconnector) could be extended to the second half of 2021 from April 2021 currently, since the company tasked with the construction of the pipeline — Greece’s AVAX, has asked for an extension of the deadline due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pipeline, which has a total estimated cost of 220 million euro, will connect the Greek gas transmission system in the area of Komotini to the Bulgarian gas transmission system in the area of Stara Zagora. The projected capacity will be up to 3 billion cubic meters per year in the direction from Greece to Bulgaria. The planned length of the pipeline is 182 km. The 151 km of the interconnector will be on Bulgarian territory, while 31 km will be in Greece.

Serbia

In June 2019, Serbia and Hungary signed an intergovernmental agreement to cooperate on the construction and operation of a gas interconnector, with both sides citing that the security of gas supplies were a strategic and national security matter.

The maximum capacity of the new line will be 10 billion cubic meters, and the construction was estimated to be completed by the end of 2021.

The Serbia — North Macedonia gas interconnection between the towns of Vranje and Kumanovo will also be prepared for construction, as a part of the European Commission’s Economic and Investment Plan.

Serbia is also planning to make a construction of a gas interconnector with Romania by 2025 — which would be 76 kilometers long, with a proposed capacity of 1.6 billion cubic meters of gas per year, and an estimated value of the investment of 85 million euros.

North Macedonia

The North Macedonia-Greece interconnector project, worth 55 million euros and projected to be operational by 2022, will ensure supply of additional quantities of natural gas from Greece and other sources that will be available through Greece, direct connection to the existing LNG Terminal Revithoussa, and transit of additional quantities of natural gas intended for Kosovo and Serbia.

In 2018, North Macedonia and Albania signed a Memorandum of understanding which provides that the two countries will cooperate in the development of the natural gas transmission networks through the construction of an interconnection line, with the purpose of efficient delivery of natural gas.

North Macedonia also submitted an application for the technical assistance for preparation of the project for construction of an interconnection pipeline with Kosovo.

Albania

The three gas interconnectors that are being planned are assessed as the main pillars for the development of the gas sector in Albania. They include the Trans Adriatic pipeline, the Ionian Adriatic pipeline, and the Albania — Kosovo pipeline.

The Trans Adriatic Pipeline operates a natural gas transportation infrastructure from the Greek border with Turkey to Southern Italy, bringing gas to several European countries, in a 3,500 kilometers gas value chain stretching from the Caspian Sea to Europe. The pipeline starts near the Evros area of Kipoi at the Greek-Turkish border, where it is connected to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP). It traverses northern Greece westwards Kastoria at the Greek-Albanian border. Crossing Albania and the Adriatic Sea, the pipeline comes ashore in Southern Italy to connect to the Italian gas network. The TAP pipeline went operational on November 15th.

The Ionian Adriatic Pipeline (IAP) project aims to connect the existing Croatian gas transmission system, via Montenegro and Albania with the TAP system or a similar project. The total length of the gas pipeline from the Croatian town Split to Albanian town Fieri is 511 km.

The Albania-Kosovo Gas Pipeline (ALKOGAP) project is planned to connect the existing and planned gas transmission system of Albania (including the TAP project) with the future projected gas transmission system of Kosovo. The project aims to establish a new supply route for natural gas from the Caspian Region transported by Trans Adriatic Pipeline, north-eastwards of the Western Balkan area towards Serbia. The construction of this transmission pipeline would enable the gasification of Albania and Kosovo and provide a diversified and reliable natural gas supply.

Romania

On the basis of the trilateral agreement, between Moldova, Romania and Ukraine in the summer of 2020, the first supply of natural gas to Romania -with Moldova being a transit country- took place. Historically, this route was used solely by Russia’s Gazprom. The use of Moldovan gas transmission system opens the way for gas transit from Ukrainian underground storages to the market of Romania and other Balkan countries.

Montenegro

Last year, Italy and Montenegro launched an undersea power interconnector built in an investment worth 1.1 billion euros. The undersea power interconnector links the electrical substations in Cepagatti, in the Italian province of Pescara, and Lastva, to the municipality of Kotor in Montenegro. The 445-kilometer interconnector is of strategic importance for the security of the two countries’ power systems as well as for the integration of renewable energy sources.

Originally published at energyfeed.gr

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