European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has approved a EUR30m loan to Citygas Bulgaria for the development of a gas distribution network in the south of the Bulgaria.

Majority-owned by the Italian gas distribution and supply utility Gruppo Societa’ Gas Rimini Spa, Citygas Bulgaria is the holder of a 35-year renewable concession to develop and operate the gas distribution network in Trakia region and the municipality of Kargiali, with a population of approximately 900,000.

The gas distribution network in Bulgaria remains under-developed with large parts of the country not covered by the network, the company said.

The EBRD loan will finance the construction of 833km of the gas distribution network and associated infrastructure in 27 municipalities in the Trakia region and in the municipality of Kargiali by 2012.

As part of Citiygas Bulgaria’s investment programme, the project aims to provide gas connection to 1,000 industrial, 1,500 commercial and 96,000 domestic users by 2017.

The bank’s investment will contribute to the gasification of Bulgaria, providing a more reliable, less polluting, and efficient source of energy to households, commercial and industrial users and supporting economic development in the region.

Riccardo Puliti, director of energy at EBRD, said: “We are pleased to support Gas Rimini and its subsidiary Citygas Bulgaria in implementing this important project, which will bring significant benefits to people and businesses in the region.”

Since the beginning of the EBRD operations in Bulgaria, the bank has committed EUR2bn in more than 120 projects in key sectors of the country’s economy, mobilising additional investment worth more than EUR7bn.