SOFIA Jan 19 Bulgaria and Serbia signed on
Thursday a memorandum of understanding to work together for the
construction of a natural gas pipeline to link the Balkan
neighbours to boost security of supplies and reduce their strong
reliance on Russian gas.
"This is a very important day for Serbia and Bulgaria,"
Serbian Energy minister Aleksandar Antic said after signing the
memorandum with his Bulgarian counterpart Temenuzhka Petkova.
The two countries plan to begin the construction of the
150-km gas inter-connector link by May 2019 and have it
operational by the end of 2020.
Bulgaria has already drafted a technical plan for the 61 km
of the pipeline that will link Sofia with the Serbian city of
Serbia, which hopes to wrap up its EU membership talks by
2019, is under pressure from Brussels to reduce its dependence
on Russian gas, which accounts for more than 80 percent of its
needs, to join the bloc.
Bulgaria, which still gets over 95 percent of its gas from
Russia's Gazprom, has opened a gas link with neighbouring
Romania and is working to connect its gas network with
neighbouring Greece and Turkey to diversify its suppliers.
(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Mark Potter)