Among 28 members of the EU, Bulgaria could benefit the most from closer energy ties inside the bloc, European Commission vice president for energy union Maros Sefcovic said on September 15 during a visit to Sofia.
Such a union would enhance Bulgaria’s energy security by developing interconnections with neighbouring countries and diversifying energy sources, Sefcovic told public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television (BNT).
Bulgaria is one of the EU member states with the heaviest dependency on Russian energy supplies, importing nuclear fuel for its Kozloduy nuclear power plant and more than 80 per cent of its annual gas consumption. In recent years, Sofia has attempted to diversify its energy sources, but first deliveries of Azeri gas not scheduled until 2019, while gas interconnectors with neighbouring countries have been beset by bureaucratic delays and engineering issues.
The gas inter-connectors with Romania and Greece were among the issues Sefcovic was due to discuss with Bulgarian Energy Minister Temenouzhka Petkova. The EU has allocated 50 million euro for Bulgarian inter-connector pipelines, but both projects are running behind schedule, and unless the projects are completed by the end of 2016, Bulgaria could have to return the EU funding.
Bulgaria would be best served if it had three different source of gas, Sefcovic told BNT. “I think it is very important to look at the situation from the viewpoint of how to diversify the portfolio of suppliers to have a fair price and to ensure that Bulgaria has more energy security than it does today,” he was quoted as saying.
(Sefcovic meeting Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov earlier this year.)