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Bulgaria and Greece finally begin construction of gas pipeline

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras have broken ground at a ceremony to mark the start of construction of a natural gas pipeline that will link the two countries. The ceremony took place in the village of Kirkovo, 15 kilometres north of Bulgaria’s border with Greece, more than a decade after the two countries signed an agreement to link up their gas networks.

The initial annual capacity of the pipeline will be three billion cubic metres is expected to ready by the end of 2020. It will initially transport mainly Azeri gas to Bulgaria.

However, Mr Borissov described the inter-connector as a “promise kept” to diversify natural gas deliveries, and said that he hopes it will offer all of South-Eastern Europe access to a variety of new sources of gas. “It will lead to real diversification of gas supplies,” he commented.

Mr Tsipras added that the project would “strengthen the geopolitical role of Greece and Bulgaria.”

Earlier this month the project company for the pipeline, ICGB, picked Greek gas contractor J&P AVAX to build the link between the southern Bulgarian city of Stara Zagora to the Greek city of Komotini in northeast Greece.

ICGB is 50 per cent owned by Bulgaria’s state-held BEH energy holding company. The remaining shares are held by Greece’s DEPA and Italy’s Edison.