Bulgaria-Serbia gas interconnector is a gas pipeline that runs 170km, 62km in Bulgaria and 108km in Serbia, with a planned transmission capacity of 1.8 billion cubic metres per year

Diseño sin título

Bulgaria starts construction on Bulgarian section of IBS. (Credit: European Commission)

Bulgaria has started construction on its portion of the Interconnector Bulgaria-Serbia (IBS), a natural gas pipeline project that links Bulgaria and Serbia.

IBS was recognised as an EU Project of Common Interest and is the priority project of the Central and South Eastern Europe energy connectivity (CESEC) High-Level Group.

The gas pipeline runs 170km, 62km in Bulgaria and 108km in Serbia, with a planned transmission capacity of 1.8 billion cubic metres per year, and has reverse flow capability.

The European Union (EU) co-financed the Bulgarian section of the pipeline with €27.6m under the Connecting Europe Facility Energy programme, and €6m from structural funds.

The European Commission (EC) has supported the Serbian section of the pipeline with an EU grant of €49.6m, funded through the Instrument of Pre-Accession (IPA) scheme.

The project will diversify Serbia’s gas supplies, reduce import dependence on Russian gas, and provide alternative supply routes in South-East Europe, said the commission.

EU Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson said in a video message: “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 2nd half of 2023.”

Previously, Serbia received gas only from Russia, through the TurkStream gas pipeline. Russia has cut the gas supplies to Europe, in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

The new pipeline is said to provide Serbia with access to non-Russian gas from the Southern gas corridor and liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals in Greece and Turkey.

It will diversify routes linking Bulgaria to the European gas network, said Reuters.

Since Bulgaria was cut off from Russian gas imports in April last year, it has been transporting 1bcm per annum of gas through a new interconnector link with Greece.

The ground-breaking ceremony for the Bulgarian part of the IBS was held at Golyanovtsi village in Kostinbrod Municipality, Sofia district, Bulgaria.

Representatives of the EC and the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA) attended the ceremony.