The project will be financially supported by the European Commission and by 2025, the country hopes to have a new facility with a storage capacity of 1 billion cubic meters, announces EURACTIV.bg. Bulgaria’s gas storage facility, Chiren, which has a capacity of 550 million cubic meters and can cover about 20% of the country’s annual consumption, will be doubling its capacity.
Bulgaria is the only country in the Balkans, besides Croatia, that has the resources to store natural gas in underground storage, which can be pumped out when needed. In total, the entire project for Chiren has cost nearly 300 million euros, 78 million euros of which will be allocated under the Connecting Europe Facility, because regional gas traders will get free access to the additional capacity. The gas project also received priority status within the “Three Seas” initiative.
At the moment, Bulgaria’s natural gas consumption is about 3 billion cubic meters, two-thirds of which is in the winter due to heating systems and several large plants. After the expansion, the storage facility will be able to cover half of the country’s winter consumption.
Once the expansion work is completed and the new compressor station is switched on, the storage facility will be able to operate in reverse mode and respond quickly to market crises.
Greece and North Macedonia have already expressed interest in reserving capacity after 2025. “The project is of interest not only to Bulgaria but also to the regional market. There is already interest from traders from neighbouring countries in using the expanded capacity,” said Vladimir Malinov, executive director of the state-owned Bulgartransgaz company.
“The project is important not only for the country and the region, but also for the European Union,” added the former European Commissioner for Industry Gunter Verheugen, who is currently a member of the advisory board of one of the Bulgarian companies implementing the project.