ICGB AD, the company that will construct, own and operate the Interconnector Greece Bulgaria (IGB) pipeline has chosen after a tender Greece’s J&P AVAX to construct the pipeline.

“The participant that best covers ICGB’s technical and financial requirements is J&P AVAX SA. The company received a final score of 83.8 points of maximum 100 and offered a price of EUR 144,850,000,” ICGB, which is owned by Bulgarian Energy Holding EAD (50%), Italy’s Edison (25%) and Greece’s DEPA (25%), said in a press release on 14 May.

ICGB Executive Officers Teodora Georgieva and Konstantinos Karayannakos hailed the successful completion of the procedure and the progress made. “The two noted that the tenders for the construction and the line pipe supply are the most important and final steps for the start of the construction activities for the gas interconnector. The contract will be executed in 18 months after the start of the construction activities. ICGB expects mobilization and relies on the contractor’s professionalism regarding compliance with the set budget and the project’s schedule,” ICGB said.

Bulgaria plans to launch construction of the interconnector link later in May. The project is expected to carry Caspian gas in the Balkans, reducing reliance on Russian gas. The project is supported by the European Union since it will enhance the security of supply and ensuring the diversification of gas supplies for Bulgaria and the Southeast Europe Region. IGB is listed among the PCIs (Projects of Common Interest) and is included as a leading project in the CESEC initiative (Central and South-Eastern European gas Connectivity).

The groundbreaking ceremony for the IGB will be held on 22 May in Bulgaria’s Kirkovo village, Trend reported citing Bulgarian Energy Ministry. Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will reportedly attend the ceremony.

The IGB gas pipeline will be connected with the Greek national gas transmission system in the area of Komotini and with the Bulgarian national gas transmission system in the area of Stara Zagora. The planned length of the pipeline is 182 kilometres, the pipeline diameter will be 32” and the projected capacity will be up to 3 billion cubic metres in the direction from Greece to Bulgaria. Depending on the interest from the market and the capacities of the neighbouring gas transmission systems, the pipeline is designed for increasing its capacity up to 5 billion cubic metres for following up the market evolution thus allowing physical reverse flow (from Bulgaria to Greece) with the additional installation of a compressor station. A Memorandum for cooperation between ICGB and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) has been signed concerning joint actions in relation to the future connection between the IGB pipeline and TAP.

IGB Pipeline has obtained intergovernmental support by Greece and Bulgaria via a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2009. The Bulgarian and Greek Governments have called the IGB a “project of national importance”. The project is a key part of the strategy for greater integration of gas markets, which includes interconnection projects Bulgaria – Greece, Bulgaria – Romania, Romania – Hungary.

At EU level, the IGB Project has obtained consistent political and financial backing, which is of utmost importance for its successful realization. The project is subject of EU financial support through the European Energy Program for Recovery (EEPR) to the amount €45 million. Funding of €149 million is provided by the Bulgarian side – an additional grant of €39 million from the European structural and investment funds and a €110 million state guarantee from a total investment amount of €240 million. The funds of €149 million are provided with the support of the Bulgarian government, as well as with the approval of the EC.