Interconnector Bulgaria-Serbia (IBS) has begun building the 62-km, 28-in. OD Bulgarian section of the 1.8-billion cu m/year (174-MMcfd) natural gas pipeline, running from the border between the two countries to Novi Iksar, Bulgaria. Total length of the reverse-flow capable pipeline is 170 km. The project will also include automated gas-regulating stations at Slivnitsa and Dragoman, Bulgaria, and a gas-metering station at Kalotina.
In a video message, European Union (EU) commissioner for energy, Kadri Simson, said: “The beginning of the works on IBS marks another critical milestone in the region's pathway toward diversification of sources and routes. It is now crucial that both governments and operators closely cooperate to ensure that the pipeline is ready and operational in the second half of 2023.”
IBS is recognized as an EU project of common interest and was described by the Union as “part of a broader process of diversification of gas supplies and a steppingstone for further enhancement of energy security in the region.” The project is necessary to reduce import dependence on Russian gas and provide alternative supply routes in southeast Europe, the EU said.
The EU co-funded the Bulgarian section of the €76.7-million pipeline segment with €27.6 million under the Connecting Europe Facility Energy program and €6 million from structural funds. Bulgartransgaz EAD is heading the project in Bulgaria. The EU also funded the Serbian section of the pipeline with a grant of €49.6 million through the Instrument of Pre-Accession scheme.