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Brussels, 5 March 2010

Commissioner Oettinger welcomes agreement on acceleration of gas interconnector between Bulgaria and Serbia

Today, the Minister for Economy, Energy and Tourism of the Republic of Bulgaria, Traycho Traykov, and the Minister of Mining and Energy of the Republic of Serbia, Petar Škundrić, signed in the presence of Director-General of DG Energy, Philip Lowe, a joint statement paving the way for the planned gas interconnector project between Bulgaria and Serbia. The Joint Statement is an expression of the commitment of both governments to the Serbia-Bulgaria gas pipeline. It outlines the concrete next steps of the project and invites the assistance of the European Commission and the International Financial Institutions in preparation of the project and related studies.

“It is our longstanding objective to connect the gas system of the Energy Community to the European energy market. This interconnector is the first major step in the process. We hope that the project kicks off without delay and we are ready to support its preparation and implementation, also financially under the regional development and enlargement programmes”, said Günther Oettinger. “This is a prime example of putting our security of supply standards into practice”.

“This gas interconnector is part of our strategy to link with our neighbours, which also includes interconnections with Romania, Greece and the possibility of physical reverse flow with Turkey. We intend to use part of our allocation from the European Regional Development Fund for this project since we believe this project will contribute greatly to the long term development of our country. Due to our strategic location and advantages linked to having major gas and oil corridors passing through the territory of the country, Bulgaria will have a central role in the distribution of gas to neighbouring countries in the region said Traycho Traykov when signing the Statement. Petar Škundrić added that “this bi-directional interconnector has always been an integral part of the long term strategy to develop the Serbian gas market. Together with the substantial underground gas storage capacities currently being developed in Banatski Dvor, and in the future also in Vojvodina, the project will increase the flexibility of the gas supply. Not only are we creating access to gas coming from new sources such as Greek LNG and in the future through the Southern Gas Corridor from the Caspian region, but we also pave the way for becoming a regional gas hub bringing gas to our Energy Community neighbours.”

The signature ceremony was also witnessed by Dušan Bajatović , General Director of Srbijagas, and Ivan Drenovichki, Executive Director of Bulgartransgas.

This gas pipeline starting in Nis and crossing the border near Dimitrovgrad, will be the first interconnector between the transmission systems of Bulgaria and Serbia. It will contribute to the security of gas supply of both countries as well as the region. The project is part of the Energy Community Gas Ring concept promoted by the European Commission. The investment required for this roughly 180 kilometre long pipeline with the capacity of ca 2 billion cubic meters per annum is estimated at 100-120 million Euro. The project preparation, as well as the construction of the infrastructure, may benefit from European Union funds. Major European financial institutions may also provide financing to the project. The project is expected to enter into the feasibility study phase already in autumn 2010, and the first gas could start flowing in 2013.

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