The leaders of Bulgaria and Greece launched on Tuesday the construction of an LNG import terminal near the northern Greek port of Alexandroupolis, aimed at diversifying supply to southeast Europe and cutting its heavy reliance on Russian gas.
The LNG terminal, expected to start operations towards the end of next year, would triple Greece’s regasification capacity, Greek Prime Kyriakos Mitsotakis said at the ceremony attended by the prime ministers of Bulgaria and North Macedonia, the president of Serbia, and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel.
Last week, Gazprom stopped gas deliveries to Poland and Bulgaria, saying supply was cut off “due to absence of payments in rubles.”
In Bulgaria's case, Bulgaria is required to pay in U.S. dollars for Russian gas under its contract with Gazprom, and Russia's demand for payment in rubles is a breach of that contract and adds risks to the buyer, Bulgarian Energy Minister Alexander Nikolov said last week.
“It is clear that in the current war in Ukraine, Russia uses natural gas as a political and economic weapon,” Nikolov added, noting that Bulgaria will not negotiate under pressure.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said last week that he had discussed the situation with his Greek counterpart Mitsotakis and that Bulgaria and Greece would continue to work with its neighbor towards energy security and diversification, which is of strategic importance to both countries and the region. Bulgaria and Greece are confident that the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB), a pipeline to diversify gas supply away from Russia, will be completed on time this summer, Petkov added.
At today’s ceremony, Petkov said that the Kremlin’s economic blackmail would fail following the united response of the EU to the halt of Russian gas deliveries to two of its member states.
“United, we can counter the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the unprecedented pressure from Russia via the stoppage of gas deliveries,” Petkov said. The LNG terminal is not only an energy but also a geopolitical project that will change the energy map of the entire region, Bulgaria’s PM said.
Charles Michel, for his part, commented on Twitter:
“We will end our dependence on Russian fossil fuels. This new #LNG terminal is a geopolitical investment. It will help free South East Europe from the weaponisation of gas supply by #Russia.”
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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