Bulgarian Minister Explores Gas Supply Prospects With Iran

Bulgarian Minister Explores Gas Supply Prospects With IranBulgarian Minister Explores Gas Supply Prospects With Iran

Iran can contribute to the construction of a proposed natural gas pipeline that will connect Bulgaria to its southern neighbor Greece as the Eastern Europe nation looks to play a role in the energy dynamics of the region.

The issue was discussed between Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh and his Bulgarian counterpart Temenuzhka Petkova in a meeting in Tehran Monday.

"Iran has shown strong interest in the project for construction of an interconnector between Greece and Bulgaria," Petkova was quoted as saying by Bulgaria's FOCUS News Agency.

“Energy was one of the major issues on which we can cooperate with our Iranian partners,” she added.

An interconnector is a structure which enables energy flow between networks. It is particularly used to refer to interstate electricity and gas networks.

Petkova accompanied her Prime Minister Boyko Borisov who visited Tehran this week.

Iran's involvement can also pave the way for its natural gas to pass through the pipeline, allowing the world's third-largest gas producer to have a stronger footprint the huge European gas market.

Iran holds the world's largest gas reserves, estimated at 34 billion cubic meters, or about 18.2% of the world’s total reserves, according to BP's annual report published in July.

Iran was also the world's third-largest gas producer in 2015 after the US and Russia, following a 5.7% rise in production compared to 2014.

The Persian Gulf nation pumps more than 400 million cubic meters of gas per day at present, but plans to increase output to more than 1.2 bcm/d by 2021, driving the growth mainly from its joint South Pars Gas Field in the Persian Gulf.

Petkova added that her country is interested in taking part in building an LNG terminal in the southern Greek city of Alexandroupoli.

“Regarding the construction of the LNG terminal in Alexandroupoli, there are some preconditions to delivering natural gas from Iran in about 3-4 years,” the minister explained.

Petkova said Zanganeh had informed her about the projects in Iran's resurging economic and energy sectors, including the prospects for Bulgaria in nuclear energy projects and construction of reactors.

  Nabucco Pipeline Project

Tehran and Sofia discussed establishing a "natural gas hub" and explored the prospect of cooperation in another mega project, Nabucco Pipeline, in a meeting between First Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri and Borisov.

One phase of Nabucco has been proposed to start from the Iran-Turkey border, since initially Iranian and Turkmen gas was considered for Nabucco along with Azeri gas. But European energy companies backed out of the plan after the US and EU tightened sanctions against Iran's nuclear program in 2011 and 2012.

“Iran and Bulgaria will set up a joint committee to facilitate cooperation in different sectors of energy, including gas,” Iran’s Deputy Oil Minister Amirhossein Zamaninia said after meeting Petkova on Monday.

Iran has voiced willingness to supply natural gas through its northern borders to Europe, but any such plan entails long-term financial and political commitment of several nations.

Many European countries say they want to diversify their energy sources and wean themselves off Russian gas. In their quest, they see post-sanctions Iran as an important energy supplier with huge potential.

An alternate route to deliver Iran's gas to Europe is the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, a pipeline that starts from Azerbaijan and stretches from western Turkey through Greece, Albania and then across the Adriatic Sea to Italy.

Construction of the pipeline to transfer Caspian gas to Europe started last month. However it is not yet clear whether Iran can or will export its gas through the new 878-km TAP.