European Commission approved €16 million for expansion of natural gas storage Chiren, Bulgaria

The European Commission has granted approval for a 16 million euro Bulgarian initiative aimed at expanding the natural gas storage facility in Chiren, managed by Bulgartransgaz. This decision aligns with the EU state aid framework, as Bulgartransgaz commits an investment of approximately 285 million euros towards expanding storage capacity from 550 million to 1 billion cubic meters. This investment aims to enhance injection and pumping capabilities of natural gas from Chiren, securing Bulgaria’s winter consumption while promoting gas trade through improved storage integration.

Bulgaria’s support plan for “Bulgartransgaz,” spanning nine years with a 16 million euro loan backed by a public guarantee, seeks to ensure gas supply security, enhance market competition, and advance gas trade in the region through integrated storage. The Chiren repository expansion, designated a Project of Common Interest (“PCI”), is included in the Commission’s Fifth Schedule, reflecting collaborative efforts to finalize the European internal energy market and align with the EU’s energy and climate policy objectives. Greece has also shown interest in using Chiren as a natural gas storage site. The Commission’s assessment, under Article 107(3)(c) TFEU and the Climate, Environment, and Energy State Aid Guidelines (‘CEEAG’), concluded that the Bulgarian scheme appropriately facilitates Bulgartransgaz’s investment while maintaining competition and trade balance within the EU. This EU state aid approval underscores the strategic significance of this initiative.

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