June 26, 2018 / 8:05 AM / 6 months ago

Bulgaria's Bulgartransgaz opens tender for a gas link to Turkey

SOFIA, June 26 (Reuters) - Bulgaria’s state gas network operator Bulgartransgaz has opened a 48.9 million levs ($29.22 million) tender to build a gas link to Turkey, as Sofia rushes to prepare to transport Russian gas from the TurkStream pipeline to Europe.

Offers for the new 11-kilometre pipeline that will provide a link from the Turkish border to Bulgaria’s transit pipeline network will be accepted until July 26, a public procurement order on Bulgartransgaz’s website showed on Tuesday.

However, the contract will only become valid after a final investment decision for the construction of the onshore portion of the TurkStream pipeline in Turkey, and final written confirmation that it will be linked with Bulgaria’s gas network, the company said.

Turkstream is part of the Kremlin’s plans to bypass Ukraine, currently the main transit route for Russian gas to Europe, and strengthen its position in the European gas market.

It consists of two lines with an annual capacity of 15.75 billion cubic metres (bcm) each that will run under the Black Sea to Turkey. The first line, already completed, will be used for local consumption.

The second line is planned to run through Turkey to southeastern and central Europe and Bulgaria has said it will be the entry point for it.

Russia is yet to decide whether that pipeline will ship gas to Europe via Bulgaria or Greece.

The new gas link will expand the capacity of the current transit pipeline to Turkey and will also be important if Russia’s gas giant Gazprom, on whose gas supplies the Balkan country is fully dependent, decides to switch the entry point for its gas deliveries to Bulgaria, it said.

At present Gazprom ships about 3 bcm of gas a year for Bulgaria’s domestic needs through Ukraine and Romania.

The Balkan country has also built a 20-km looping at its transit pipeline to Turkey, expanding its capacity to 15.7 bcm a year from 14 bcm and making its flows reversible.

Bulgaria transports about 13 bcm of Russian gas a year to Turkey at present. ($1 = 1.6736 leva) (Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Mark Potter)

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