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Greece and Bulgaria complete ‘energy bridge’ to cut gas reliance on Russia

Greece and Bulgaria have completed a long-delayed gas pipeline between the two countries which they hope will contribute to ending Europe’s dependence on Russian gas. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said completion of the “energy bridge” was an “important moment for the Balkans and Europe as a whole” as it will help all European countries cut their reliance on gas from Russia.

The Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB) will carry gas from the northern Greek city of Komotini to Stara Zagora in Bulgaria and will be linked to another pipeline carrying Azeri gas.

“A new geopolitical cooperation has begun, one which will cause diversification and change the map once this pipeline begins carrying Azeri gas in the next few weeks, ending Russia’s monopoly,” Bulgarian outgoing Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said.

He added that the pipeline still needed some software checks and permits before gas could start flowing from Azerbaijan.

The 180-kilometre pipeline, which will have an initial capacity of 3 billion cubic metres with plans to later increase to 5 billion, is expected to be operational by early August. The cost of its construction is estimated at EUR 220 million.

At the end of April, Russian energy giant Gazprom cut off gas deliveries to Bulgaria over its refusal to pay in roubles. Bulgaria consumes about 3 billion cubic metres of gas per year, of which more than 90 percent had come from Russia.

Greece’s annual gas consumption amounted to around 7 billion cubic metres last year.

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