Greece-Bulgaria pipeline offers 'freedom from Russian gas'
Evangelos Sipsas in Athens

After years of construction, the Gas Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria is now operational. The pipeline allows gas to flow from Greece to Bulgaria and beyond, offering the Balkans an alternative to Russian gas.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony in the Bulgarian capital Sofia, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen welcomed the development.

"This pipeline is a game changer, it’s a changer for Bulgaria’s and Europe’s energy security and it means Freedom, freedom from dependency on Russian gas," she said.

Funded by Greece, Bulgaria and the European Union, the ICGB pipeline runs between the north eastern Greek city of Komotini to Stara Zagora in central Bulgaria. It provides around 10,000 cubic meters of gas a day. The pipeline connects with the existing Trans Adriatic Pipeline, allowing gas to be transported from Azerbaijan.

The ICGB will also carry gas from planned LNG terminals which, when completed next year, will increase the flow of gas to 4,5 billion cubic meters annually.  

President Von der Leyen also took the opportunity to comment on soaring energy costs.

"The task ahead of us is very clear. We will do more to contain the skyrocketing the energy prices that are weakening our economy and we have to do it as Europeans and we have to do it jointly," von der Leyen said. 

But last week the president refused a request by 15 European countries for a cap on wholesale gas prices, a decision that Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis made clear his government is not happy with.

"It is so important, Mrs. Von der Leyen, that what we did with COVID, we should do with gas," Mitsotakis said.  

"We need a unified European strategy, we need to avoid the fragmentation of the European energy market and we need to be certain that we place European solidarity above natural interests," said he added. 

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