By Murat Temizer
ANKARA (AA) – The ability to have reverse gas flows via the Trans-Balkan pipeline between Bulgaria and Romanian, Greek and Macedonian markets will ensure the pipeline's full-capacity utilization, which otherwise would be almost idle with the launch of the TurkStream 2 natural gas pipeline, according to a senior fellow at the EastWest Institute, an international affairs think tank on Tuesday.
Danila Bochkarev told Anadolu Agency it seems from a logistical and demand point of view that Bulgaria is the preferred route for the South Stream Lite — what experts refer to as TurkStream's second leg for markets in Southern and Southeastern Europe.
Bochkarev noted that to facilitate potential access to other countries in southeast and Central Europe, namely Serbia and Hungary, the planned interconnector between Bulgaria and Serbia, which is expandable to 4.5 billion cubic meters (bcm), would facilitate access to these countries that declared their interest in obtaining gas via the TurkStream project.
"Also, Gazprom’s intention to expand the Banatski Dvor gas storage facility in Serbia suggests it sees the country as part of the project [TurkStream]," he said noting that in June 2018, Hungary's Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said Budapest is interested in importing gas through Bulgaria and Serbia via the TurkStream pipeline.
Italy's oil and gas industry contractor Saipem expects to finish the Bulgaria-Hungary gas link in October 2019, which will help deliver TurkStream gas to Hungary, he added.
"These countries show interesting potential because of increased gas demand in Southeastern Europe," Bochkarev asserted.
– Bulgarian projects
At the Western Balkans summit of Leaders in Sofia, Bulgaria on May 17, the energy ministers of Bulgaria and Serbia jointly committed to implementing a gas interconnector for the first time to link the gas systems of Bulgaria and Serbia. The interconnector aims to boost diversification of energy sources in the Western Balkan region, reduce dependency on one dominant supplier and increase energy security.
On Friday, Aug. 3, a new 20-kilometer extension pipeline was launched between Turkey and Bulgaria.
The new Lozenets-Nedyalsko pipeline will increase the current Trans-Balkan pipeline's capacity from 14 billion cubic meters to 15.7 billion cubic meters.
The new line will also allow reverse flows between Bulgaria and Turkey.
The TurkStream natural gas pipeline project with two legs and a total capacity of 31.5 bcm, will serve 15.75 bcm to Turkey and 15.75 to Europe.