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SOFIA, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Bulgaria could take up to a 25 percent stake in a project to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal off the coast of northern Greece, the Bulgarian energy minister said on Wednesday.
The 380 million euro ($425 million) floating facility will be linked to a gas pipeline due to be built by Greece and Bulgaria and would help Bulgaria reduce its reliance on Russian gas. It will also aim to supply gas to southeastern Europe.
Bulgaria's state-run energy holding company BEH has set up a taskforce with Greek natural gas company Gastrade, which plans to build the terminal, to consider joint participation.
The team is due to come up with a proposal by the end of this month and Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova said Sofia would then consider its options.
Gastrade, part of Greek energy group Copelouzos, plans to build the terminal off the coast near the northern Greek city of Alexandroupolis.
"The end of October is the deadline, when the taskforce should come up with a proposal which should give us clarity about the possibilities for Bulgaria's participation," Petkova said at a press briefing with her Greek counterpart Panos Skourletis.
"We have declared readiness to participate as an investor, as a shareholder with up to a 25 percent stake," she said.
The facility, with an estimated annual capacity of 6.1 billion cubic metres (bcm), will aim to supply gas to southeastern Europe via another natural gas pipeline scheme that will cross through Greece, the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB).
Bulgaria and Greece signed the final investment agreement for the IGB link last year and binding bids for the pipeline are expected by the end of this month.
Gastrade would not necessarily hold a majority stake in the project, but would like to involve the main market players in Greece and Bulgaria, Konstantinos Sifnaios, a business development manager at Gasgrade, said.
Cheniere Energy, a U.S-based liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter, has also expressed interest in becoming a shareholder, Sifnaios said.
A final decision on the investment structure of the Alexandroupolis terminal is expected by the middle of 2017, with it due to become operational in the second half of 2019, he said. ($1 = 0.8937 euros) (Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Susan Fenton)