Biggest technical problem in IGB construction solved

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The construction of the gas interconnector with Greece remains on schedule in compliance with the agreed contractual deadlines, and one of the two most complex stages has just been successfully completed – the HDD crossing of the pipeline under Maritsa River near Dimitrovgrad.

Report informs, citing the official website of the IGB, that this was announced during a round table held in Sofia as part of the Bulgarian hosting of the Three Seas Initiative under the aegis of President Rumen Radev.

During the event, the Executive Officer of the project company ICGB Teodora Georgieva presented the current progress of the interconnector with Greece and outlined the important role that IGB can play in Bulgaria’s energy transition to greener and more sustainable solutions:

“The EU is setting high goals for a green economy and achieving a zero-carbon footprint, and there will undoubtedly be a transitional period during which new solutions in this direction will be gradually introduced in an economically rational manner. This is also the path that awaits Bulgaria, where natural gas can play a crucial role as a transitional energy source. A sensible and practical solution would be to switch the coal-fired thermal power plants in the country to natural gas. This will also enable synergy with the IGB pipeline. Such a transformation will significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions and will optimize the costs of these companies, which would inevitably have a positive effect on energy consumers in the country.

“This model will bring Bulgaria closer to the common goals of the EU and will help us make the first steps on the road to hydrogen and full decarbonization. It is extremely important for our country to have a clear dedicated plan for the implementation of the goals and the transition to a green economy,” Georgieva said.

According to her, IGB’s construction activities are progressing at a stable pace, and the infrastructure is expected to be ready by the end of 2021. Over 100 km of the pipeline are ready and lowered in the trench, with less than 25 km remaining to be welded. The crossing of the interconnector under Maritsa River near Dimitrovgrad has also been successfully completed. “This was one of the biggest technical challenges in the project, primarily due to the complex geology under the river bed. The whole process took a total of 28 days, and the final phase – pulling the entire pipeline section – took more than 10 hours of continuous operation,” Georgieva noted.

The IGB gas pipeline will be connected with the Greek national gas transmission system in Komotini and with the Bulgarian national gas transmission system in the area of Stara Zagora. The planned length of the pipeline is 182 km, the pipeline diameter will be 32, and the projected capacity will be up to 3 bcm/y in the direction from Greece to Bulgaria. Depending on the interest from the market and the capacities of the neighboring gas transmission systems, the pipeline is designed for increasing its capacity up to 5 bcm/y for following up the market evolution, thus allowing physical reverse flow (from Bulgaria to Greece) with the additional installation of a compressor station.

The IGB is designed to transport blue fuel from Shah Deniz 2 to Bulgaria. Through this pipeline, which will join TAP, Bulgaria will import 1 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year from Azerbaijan. Thus, the state company Bulgargaz EAD has signed a contract with the Shah Deniz consortium to purchase this amount of gas from the Shah Deniz-2 field. Azerbaijan will be able to meet 25-30% of Bulgaria’s gas needs. Construction work on the IGB is expected to be completed in the second half of next year.