Azerbaijani-Bulgarian friendship should become bridge for more significant energy diversification - Kiril Petkov

Oil&Gas Materials 26 July 2022 10:13
Azerbaijani-Bulgarian friendship should become bridge for more significant energy diversification - Kiril Petkov

BAKU, Azerbaijan, July 26. It is time for the friendship between Bulgaria and Azerbaijan to become a bridge for more significant energy diversification, Kiril Petkov, Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria, said in an exclusive interview with Trend.

Talking about the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB), which is aimed at transporting Azerbaijani gas to Bulgaria’s gas the prime minister said that it is 99 percent complete.

“For 12 years during the previous government, the IGB project hasn’t been finished, it was delayed. I am very proud to have led the government that managed to complete this project in six months. In the next weeks, the IGB will be fully operating. It is finished on 99 percent and in
the next half of the year, the IGB will be fully operating. We’re looking at few remaining activities that absolutely need to be completed prior to commercial launch to make sure everything is working safely and properly and that we’ve kept the highest industry standards,” Petkov explained.

He pointed out that the EPC contractor AVAX needs to proceed in a prompt manner with the remaining activities for the integration and testing of the SCADA system.

“The rest is mostly under the jurisdiction of the Bulgarian and Greek institutions – a number of administrative procedures that have to be completed so that we can get the project’s equivalent of Act 16. The usual deadlines here can take about 3 months but we boosted in Bulgaria a prealignment process with all institutions proactively asking for their green light for ensuring IGB’s commercial start. There is an active and dedicated political and institutional support to limit the estimated timeline,” said the prime minister.

Petkov went on to add that in Bulgaria there’s already an established working group with representatives of all relevant institutions that’s set to work on ways to optimize the procedural deadlines.

“The IGB project is of immense national and regional importance. I even had weekly calls on the IGB progress with prime minister Kiriakos Mitsotakis on the progress – this is to show you the level of commitment of both governments to support the efforts and measures for the IGB to reach operational readiness. In an increasingly interconnected world, energy security challenges are complex and often require a coordinated regional approach. Bulgaria has been actively working to increase the potential of the regional cooperation by promoting completion of the missing energy
infrastructure and ensuring security of energy supplies in South East Europe. This is the road for energy independence, for Bulgaria and for Southern and South-East Europe. It will radically change the level of dependency of our country,” he added.

Petkov noted that early on, Bulgarian government understood the importance of gas independency and energy security on a local, regional and European level.

“Bulgaria has gone from 95 percent dependency to 0, and we embarked on a fast course of securing gas deliveries for Bulgarian citizens and business. In order to decrease our energy dependency, I travelled to Baku and my meeting with President Ilham Aliev, who was inclined to help us get additional quantity via Turkey, is very much appreciated. During my visit, with President Ilham Aliyev we discussed the possibility of additional Azerbaijani gas supplies to Bulgaria and Azerbaijan's political readiness to support Bulgaria. However, further development of the gas infrastructure and consolidating cooperation among countries in the region is important for guarantying future security of supply and diversification,” said the prime minister.

Petkov pointed out that there is a mutual wish to expand the bilateral economic cooperation.

“Azerbaijan is an important energy partner of Bulgaria. But we have also found many common economic opportunities in the fields of agriculture, chemical fertilisers, construction, defence industry and IT. With a view to the common challenges, it is more important than ever to continue building on the active high-level political dialogue between our countries. And I am very glad that Bulgaria will soon open an honorary consulate in Azerbaijan. It is time for the friendship between our two countries to become a bridge for future strategic economic projects and more significant energy diversification,” Kiril Petkov concluded.