The European Union is redrawing the energy map for the region in order to ease its heavy reliance on Russian natural gas. A new pipeline on the Greek-Bulgaria border began construction during the Covid pandemic, with the goal of being tested and due to start commercial operations in June 2022.
The new pipeline is meant to ensure that large volumes of gas flow between Greece and Bulgaria in both directions in order to generate electricity, fuel the industry, and heat homes.
The new pipeline takes on even more importance now that Moscow has decided to cut off natural gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria over demands for payments to be submitted in rubles, which comes as payback for Western sanctions over the ongoing war in Ukraine.
The pipeline project stretches 110 miles. It is the first of several planned gas interconnections that would give eastern countries in Eastern Europe who are a part of the EU or hope to join it access to the global gas market.
Experts say that in the short term, this pipeline is Bulgaria’s backup.
The new connection is called the Gas Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria. It will give the country access to ports in the neighboring country Greece, which import liquefied natural gas, and will also bring in gas from Azerbaijan through a new pipeline system that ends in Italy.
The EU members are scrambling to edit and change their energy mixes due to Russia’s war in Ukraine. The bloc wants to reduce dependence on Russian oil and gas by two third in 2022 and completely eliminate it within five years.
Germany is the biggest buyer in the world of Russian energy. The country is looking to build import terminals for liquefied natural gas that would take years to construct. Italy is another top Russian gas importer and has reached deals with Algeria, Azerbaijan, Angola, and Congo for its gas supplies.