ICGB Starts Assessment of Market Demand for Increasing Technical Capacity of Greece-Bulgaria Gas Interconnector

On July 3, the independent transmission system operator which is responsible for the management and commercial operations of the Greece-Bulgaria gas interconnector, ICGB, launched the first (non-binding) phase of a process for assessing market demand for incremental capacity, which is mandatory under Regulation (EU) 2017/459, the ICGB said in a press release on Monday. The idea is to find whether there are grounds to increase the existing technical capacity of the interconnector.

All interested parties are invited to submit their non-binding demand indications by August 28, 2023.

The process will be implemented in close cooperation with adjacent transmission system operators (TSOs) Bulgartransgaz (Bulgaria), DESFA (Greece), and the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP).

Currently operating at a capacity of approximately 3 bcm/y, the interconnector can reach over 5 bcm/y with an additional investment depending on market interest. This can happen in line with the planned launch of the LNG terminal in Alexandroupolis, Greece, due to the close proximity of the two infrastructures and their great synergy.

“We have taken actions to coordinate the process with the three adjacent transmission system operators, and they have confirmed the initiation of the incremental process on their side. By enabling our interconnection point with DESFA and the LNG terminal in Alexandroupolis, we will effectively create a link between global LNG producers and traders and the Southeast European gas market. This connectivity can foster regional energy cooperation, improve supply options, and support the integration of gas markets in the region”, said ICGB Executive Officers Teodora Georgieva and George Satlas.

The next steps include drafting project proposals, conducting public consultation, and submitting the final project proposal to the relevant national regulatory authorities.

According to Georgieva and Satlas, ICGB is still exploring the possibility of optimizing the process and offering incremental capacity earlier than the two-year period of the full procedure. As it is a joint process, the company will hold regular discussions with the adjacent TSOs to align and ensure a coordinated timeline on both sides of the interconnection points at Stara Zagora (South Central Bulgaria) and Komotini.

On July 3, ICGB conducted tenders for the available free capacity along the Greece-Bulgaria interconnector on two capacity booking platforms in accordance with the calendar of the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas (ENTSOG).

The Greece-Bulgaria natural gas interconnector is linked to the Greek gas transmission system and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline in the area of Komotini as well as the Bulgarian gas transmission system in the area of Stara Zagora. The interconnector delivers natural gas from Azerbaijan to Bulgaria under a long-term agreement with Baku. These deliveries meet 27% of gas consumption in Bulgaria and are essential for achieving favourable gas prices.