Energy Minister Petkova Attends 5th Ministerial Meeting of Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council

February 20 (BTA) - Energy Minister Temenouzhka
Petkova took part in the Fifth Ministerial Meeting of the
Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council in Baku on Wednesday, her
 ministry reported.

The participants discussed the progress made in the
implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor as well as energy
connectivity in Southeastern Europe.

Addressing the meeting, Petkova said that Bulgaria has the
exceptional advantage that the Southern Gas Corridor - the
fourth corridor for gas supply to Europe - passes through the
region of Southeast Europe. This corridor strengthens the energy
 security of Bulgaria and the entire EU, she added.

Petkova put an emphasis on the Bulgarian government's efforts to
  build the missing infrastructure and finish the
interconnectors in the region as a key condition for ensuring
energy security.

In her words, the construction of the Gas Interconnector
Greece-Bulgaria (IGB) is of huge geostrategic significance for
the diversification of gas supplies. The Bulgarian government
plans to start construction in mid-2019 and finish it in 2020
when the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) will be put into
operation, she specified.

The importance of the IGB project was also stressed by Sandra
Oudkirk, Deputy Assistant Secretary at the US Department of
State's Bureau of Energy Resources. In her words, the
finalization of the this project will be a historic moment for
the entire EU.
The IGB project is being implemented in synergy with other
future energy projects in the region, including the Liquefied
Natural Gas (LNG) Terminal in Alexandroupolis, Petkova also
said, adding that Bulgaria will participate in its construction
as a shareholder through Bulgartransgaz. "This will allow us to
get supplies from more distant sources, including the United
States," she added.

The Bulgarian Energy Minister also acquainted the participants
in the forum with the concept for a Balkan gas hub in her
country which is synchronized with the Southern Gas Corridor

Bulgaria is an indivisible part of the Southern Gas Corridor and
 will continue to prioritize the country's work on the gas
projects that ensure real diversification of gas sources and
supply routes, Petkova said.

Within the forum, Petkova held a meeting with Sandra Oudkirk,
Bureau of Energy Resources Deputy Assistant Secretary and
briefed her on the government's work for diversifying natural
gas suppliers and routes for Bulgaria and the region.

The discussion focused on the progress of construction of IGB.
"The issue with the project's structure and financing sources is
fully resolved," Petkova said. She recalled that a state
guarantee worth 110 million euro has been provided, as well as
an additional grant of 39 million euro from the European
Structural and Investments Fund.

The project is in its decisive stage and public procurements for
the selection of an engineering consultant, pipe supplier and
construction are expected to be concluded by the end of April.
Immediately afterwards construction of the interconnector will

Oudkirk commended the efforts of the Bulgarian government to
diversify gas suppliers and routes and declared her country's

She noted that the US also supports Bulgaria's intention to
participate as a shareholder in the construction of the LNG
terminal near Alexandroupolis. Oudkirk and Petkova agreed that
this is a key condition for LNG supply from more distant sources
 such as the US, Qatar and Algeria.

Meeting with Azerbaijan Energy Minister Parviz Shahbazov,
Petkova said that the Greece-Bulgaria interconnector is one of
the most important aspects of the strategic energy partnership
with Azerbaijan.

Petkova briefed her counterpart on the implemenation of the
interconnector and reconfirmed the Bulgarian government's
commitment to launch it into operation in 2020 in full synergy
with the Trans Adriatic Pipeline.

Prospects for investments by the State Oil Company of the
Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) in household gas supply in Bulgaria
also featured on the agenda of the meeting. Bulgaria has sent
SOCAR comprehensive information on the legislative framework,
the licence regime and the price regulation in Bulgaria's gas
distribution sector. A survey into the Bulgarian gas
distribution market commissioned by SOCAR is expected to give
favourable conclusions.
For his part Minister Shahbazov congratulated his Bulgarian
counterpart on her personal commitment to the construction of
the interconnector. Petkova invited Shahbazov to attend the
ground breaking ceremony in Bulgaria.

Within the framework of her visit to Baku Petkova conferred with
 Azeri Agriculture Minister Inam Karimov who co-chairs a
Bulgarian-Azeri intergovernmental commission for economic
cooperation. The two sides commended the advancement of
bilateral relations and the role of the intergovernmental

Source: Baku/Sofia