Five binding offers have been submitted for the use of the natural gas pipeline between Bulgaria and Greece, the joint venture building the link said in a statement.
Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB), estimated to cost €220 million, will transport gas with a total capacity of 4.3 billion cubic meters a year (bcm/y).
Last year, Bulgaria and Greece agreed to build the 182 km pipeline, which will help Sofia cut its almost total dependence on Russian gas and improve the security of its supplies.
“The announced capacity within the second phase of the market test amounts to 2.7 billion cubic meters, 1.57 billion cubic meters of which are reserved,” joint-venture ICGB said in the statement.
Until recently, Bulgaria was criticised by the Commission for lacking the political will to build interconnectors with its neighbours and seeking instead to be part of Russia-sponsored gas pipeline projects.
According to the procedure, the market test will be completed with the implementation of the advanced reservation capacity agreements by the companies which submitted the offers, upon approval of the relevant allocation by the national regulators of the Balkan neighbours Greece and Bulgaria, ICGB said.
Bulgarian state-owned energy holding company BEH has a 50% stake in the joint venture which will build the IGB pipeline, while Greek state energy firm DEPA and Italy’s Edison hold 25% each.
In October, ICGB extended the deadline for submitting binding offers in the second stage of the market test to 30 November due to requests from bidders. During the first bidding round ICGB received nine non-binding offers.
The three shareholders in IGB, as well as Austria’s OMV , Greece’s Gastrade, US Noble Energy and Azerbaijan’s SOCAR have expressed an interest among others.
Bulgaria plans to import 1.5 bcm/y of gas from the Southern gas corridor, once it starts supplying Azeri gas to Europe in 2020.