Bulgaria gas storage Chiren will be the main buffer for security of gas supply during upcoming winter on Balkans

Chiren will become a hub which will ensure gas security of South-Eastern Europe. The European Commission constantly reminds Bulgaira how important it is to complete the project to expand the capacity of the facility. The extension of PGH “Chiren” has been consistently included in all PCI lists since 2017. The project envisages increasing the volume of active gas to 1 billion cubic meters, and the daily injection and extraction capacity to 8-10 million cubic meters per day. Such an increase in capacity will promote natural gas trade and improve market integration in Southeast Europe by stimulating competition and improving liquidity in the region’s gas markets.

According to Bulgartransgaz CEO Vladimir Malinov, the availability of sufficient storage capacity in the region is key for alternative natural gas suppliers, especially for LNG, as it provides flexibility in supply management. Malinov has repeatedly explained to Brussels that through the expansion of the Chiren gas station synergy will also be achieved with the project for the liquefied natural gas terminal near Alexandroupolis. Bulgartransgaz is a shareholder with a 20% stake in this project.

During the last visit to Greece by Bulgarian energy experts and politicians, the question of how Athens should store quantities of natural gas in Chiren was even raised. The two countries are currently in the process of signing a memorandum of understanding to maintain strategic natural gas reserves on behalf of Athens at the Chiren gas storage facility. Even without the signed memorandum, the Greek Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) has already pumped natural gas for about 400,000 MWh. 

Greece has no other gas storage facilities apart from the LNG terminal near Revitusa. Namely, the injection of natural gas into the Bulgarian storage will help Athens to fulfill European regulations and maintain strategic gas reserves equal to 15% of its annual consumption in another EU country. Greece has already signed a memorandum of understanding with Italy, where Greek importing companies have started storing gas.

In addition to the expansion of the gas storage facility, procedures are currently underway to connect the facility with a new gas pipeline to the nearby “Balkan Stream”. This is part of the plan to expand the gas transmission network of our country. It is expected that the actual implementation of the new gas route will begin in the near future. The plans envisage that Bulgartransgaz will also build a new gas diversion to Kozloduy and Oryahovo. The project is part of the gas operator’s investment plan and was already declared a site of national importance in 2013. The new deviation also means new quantities of natural gas, which will be used for industry and, in all likelihood, stored in Chiren.

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