Greece and Bulgaria opened the natural gas pipeline on Friday following the completion of the construction phase, the project company developing the facility, ICGB, said.
The pipeline will supply natural gas originating in Azerbaijan to Bulgaria, whose vital supply of Russian gas was cut off in April amid the fallout over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stressed the importance of the new link as an alternative supply line for Bulgaria, as neighboring Greece is jockeying to become a regional energy transport hub.
“This isn’t just a gas pipeline, but a crucial south-north energy bridge,” Mitsotakis said during a ceremony in northeastern Greece.
Greece-Bulgaria pipeline to end Russia’s gas monopoly
Bulgaria’s acting prime minister, Kiril Petkov, highlighted the pipeline’s role in ending Russia’s gas monopoly in his country.
The operation of the IGB natural gas pipeline will change the map of the region, giving new impetus to cooperation and ending the Russian monopoly by granting access to different energy sources, Petkov said.
The 220 million euro ($223.1 million), 182-kilometer pipeline is connected to the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), allowing for additional quantities of gas from Azerbaijan that arrive in Greek ports to flow to Italy and the wider Southeast Europe region.
It will also enable the flow of liquefied natural gas to Bulgaria and Southeast Europe from Greece’s Alexandroupolis LNG terminal, paving the way for potential future LNG imports from the US, Algeria, Qatar, and Egypt among other suppliers.
The pipeline is seen as a crucial element of the European Union’s plans to give up Russian gas supplies entirely by 2030.