Bulgaria has started receiving Russian gas through the Turkish Stream pipeline. The Bulgarian gas company Bulgargaz reported that on December 30 it signed an agreement with Gazprom Export regarding new fuel deliveries.
As of January 1, natural gas has been received at Strandzha 2, with the fuel coming from Turkey, instead of at the Isakcha and Negru-Voda intake points in Romania.
The company estimated that it would save the equivalent of $46.2 million per year thanks to the change of intake point. Of this, $42 million is the cost of transit through Romania.
Bulgargaz also expects to save around $2.6 million through lower tariffs.
The company also promised that the gas price for Bulgarian consumers would go down during the first quarter of 2020. Bulgarian Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova told the Bulgarian national radio previously that the price will drop by 5% thanks to the new fuel supply route.
Bulgargaz said that it would be continuing its negotiations with Gazprom Export regarding a price decrease. The Bulgarian company insists that the price for the Bulgarian consumer should reflect the development of the gas hubs on the continent and the current border prices for Germany, France and Italy. The level of interest from both parties means that the negotiations should be concluded as early as possible at the start of 2020.
A source in Gazprom confirmed to RBC that Bulgaria has started buying gas through the Turkish Stream pipeline. “The ceremonial commissioning of Turkish Stream on January 8 is a symbolic gesture, gas was meant to flow through this pipeline as of January 1, 2020,” he added.
“It will be possible to give a qualified answer on whether Bulgaria is receiving gas from the Turkish direction tomorrow, when Bulgargaz closes the day for January 1,” Gazprom spokesperson Sergey Kupriyanov told RBC.
Bulgargaz head Nikolay Pavlov said previously that the intake point had been changed for “purely economic” reasons. Bulgaria began talking to Gazprom Export about this already in June 2019.
The Turkish Stream spans the bottom of the Black Sea to the coast of Turkey, with a total length of 930 km. Each line has a capacity of 15.75 billion cubic meters per year. The first line is intended for supplying Russian gas to Turkish consumers, and the second to Southern and South-Eastern Europe. The gas pipeline’s opening ceremony will be held in Istanbul on January 8.
In October, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Bulgaria was deliberately prolonging the construction of Turkish Stream in its territory. According to him, Sofia repeatedly asked Moscow to realize the project, but then proceeded with construction at a “leisurely pace”. In response to this, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said that the start of construction in the country was delayed due to the need to “wrap up numerous procedures”.