Azerbaijan's Natural Gas Supplies for Bulgaria Pushed Back by 3 Years

Energy | June 23, 2011, Thursday // 18:59|  views

Bulgarian Economy and Energy Minister Traicho Traikov (left) with his Azerbaijan counterpart Natiq Aliyev at the Crans Montana forum. Photo by Economy Ministry

Azerbaijan is ready to provide Bulgaria with natural gas supplies as of 2014, the Bulgarian Economy Ministry announced after a meeting of the energy ministers of the two countries.

Bulgaria's Minister of Economy, Energy, and Tourism Traicho Traikov and Azerbaijan's Minister of Energy and Industry Natig Aliyev met Thursday during the Crans Montana Forum, of which Azerbaijan this year is a partner country.

According to the Bulgarian Economy Ministry, Azerbaijan can start shipping natural gas to Bulgaria – about 1 billion cubic meters per year – via Georgia, Turkey, and Greece – as soon as Bulgaria completes its gas network interconnections with the networks of its southern neighbors.

Azerbaijan's future natural gas exports for Bulgaria is supposed to come before the realization of the second phase of the exploitation of the Shah Deniz deposit, which is expected to be the major source to fuel Nabucco, the 3300 km-long EU-sponsored gas transit pipeline.

Bulgartransgaz, a subsidiary of the Bulgarian state monopoly Bulgargaz, and Azerbaijan's state energy company SOCAR are said to restart their talks for natural gas supplies within two months.

Traykov and Natig Aliyev also discussed the project for the delivery of compressed liquefied natural gas from Azerbaijan via Georgia and the Black Sea to Bulgaria.

Bulgartransgaz (Bulgargaz) and SOCAR have completed a joint economic feasibility study for this project, and are expected to start a preliminary survey for its realization.

Back in 2010, the Presidents of Bulgaria Georgi Parvanov and Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev agreed that Bulgaria should receive its first natural gas supplies from Azerbaijan in 2011, as in June 2010, Parvanov returned a visit of his Azerbaijan counterpart that Aliyev made to Sofia in November 2009.

Back in 2010, the two presidents evaluated positively the project for the supplies of compressed natural gas from Azerbaijan to Bulgaria through Georgia, which was negotiated during their previous meetings, and agreed that the bilateral working group on its should speed up its activity.

The new element in the Bulgaria-Azerbaijan energy relations in 2010 discussed by the two heads of state had to do with the possibility for transiting gas from the Caspian country to Bulgaria via Turkey.

The two presidents set 2011 as the deadline for delivering the first Azerbaijan natural gas supplies to Bulgaria. In this respect, Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev backed a proposal of his Bulgarian counterpart for organizing a trilateral meeting of Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, and Turkey in order to negotiate the specifics about such the new project to deliver Caspian gas to Bulgaria and the Balkans, a meeting which has failed to materialize to date.

In the fall of 2010, Bulgaria got in negotiations with Georgia for the transit of 2 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Azerbaijan. This was confirmed after a meeting of the Prime Ministers of Bulgaria and Georgia, Boyko Borisov and Nikoloz Gilauri.

Bulgaria wants to buy the compressed liquefied natural gas from Azerbaijan through Georgia and the Black Sea, PM Borisov said. Bulgaria's Minister of Economy, Energy, and Transport Traicho Traikov explained that there are ongoing talks with Georgia to secure the transit of the 2 billion cubic meters of natural gas that the Bulgarian state gas company Bulgargaz (via its subsidiary Bulgartransgaz) is hoping to be buying each year from its Azerbaijan counterpart SOCAR.

Back in the fall of 2010, Traikov said Bulgartransgaz was very close to reaching a deal with SOCAR, and that once this happens, the next step would be striking a contract for a transit solution. A formal agreement, however, has not been reached.

Back in 2010, Traikov also alleged that by 2012 Bulgaria hopes to have a working transit of natural gas from Azerbaijan via Georgia and the Black Sea as one of its options for diversified natural gas supplies.

In this respect, however, Bulgaria is lagging behind its northern neighbor Romania, which already has agreements with Azerbaijan and Georgia for the purchase and transit of liquefied natural gas in the so called Azerbaijan-Georgia-Romania Interconnector (AGRI) project.

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Tags: Brussels, Crans Montana, Economy Minister, Traicho Traikov, Black Sea, liquefied natural gas, LNG, Interconnector Turkey Greece Italy, Interconnection Greece-Bulgaria, gas connection, greece, Georgia, turkey, natural gas, azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, Natiq Aliyev, Romania, AGRI


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