SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria will start receiving natural gas from Russia’s Gazprom via Turkey from Jan. 1 and would no longer use the route through Ukraine and Romania, Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova said on Monday.
Petkova said the new route via the TurkStream pipeline would be more economically viable and could result in around a 5% decrease in natural gas prices on an annual basis.
The Balkan country meets almost all of its gas needs, about 3 billion cubic meters of gas per year, with Gazprom supplies.
“We are changing the entry point for gas supplies from Russia. The reason: the economic impact and the better conditions for Bulgarian consumers,” Petkova told reporters.
Bulgaria has built an 11 km link between its national gas network and Russia’s TurkStream pipeline at the border with Turkey and is ready to take gas inflows, the head of the gas grid operator Vladimir Malinov said.
Russia is building TurkStream in two pipelines, each with 15.75 bcm annual capacity, to bypass Ukraine to the south. The first pipeline is aimed at supplying Turkey and the second would run further from Bulgaria to Serbia and Hungary.
At present, Russia also ships natural gas via Ukraine and then Bulgaria to Turkey, Greece and North Macedonia.
Malinov said it was up to Gazprom to decide whether it would use the same route for the transit or also use TurkStream and Bulgaria’s gas network for those shipments. He said there would be more clarity once Russia and Ukraine signed a new gas deal.
Russia and Ukraine announced the terms of a new gas transit deal earlier this month, under which Moscow will supply Europe for at least another five years via its former Soviet neighbor and pay a $2.9 billion settlement to Kiev to end a legal dispute.
Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova, editing by Louise Heavens and David Evans