Vladimir Malinov, chief executive of Bulgratransgaz, said Bulgaria is looking for financing possibilities for the scheduled extension of its only underground gas storage (UGS) facility, Chiren, with several financial organisations, including US state-owned funds; the Chiren expansion project is anticipated to be finished by the end of 2024, following closely behind the anticipated commissioning of the Alexandroupolis floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Greece at the end of 2023 or early 2024.
Three tenders were launched, which make the count of approximately 517.7 million levs ($268.4 million/264.7 million euro) put out by the state gas grid operator in August for the planned expansion of the Chiren site. This includes the design and building of above- and below-ground infrastructure facilities as well as the site’s connection to the current transmission system.
A grant from the European Union for 78 million euros ($79.1 million) was received by Bulgartransgaz earlier this year to help finance a portion of the project. It almost doubled the gas storage capacity of Chiren to 1 billion cubic metres (bcm). The extraction and injection capacity is expected to increase, reaching 8 million to 10 million bcm per day.
Malinov explained that the Chiren expansion contributes to the EU’s overall gas supply security and Bulgaria’s aspirations to achieve energy diversification by combining LNG into its energy mix.
Malinov also said that as of September 11, Bulgaria’s gas storage facility was 67% full. With the help of the current injection pace, Chiren is likely to meet the 80% storage objective set by the EU by the end of October. According to its present capacity/ Chiren could supply natural gas at a maximum rate of approximately 15–16% of its total capacity, or between 4 and 4.5 bcm per day.
According to Malinov, Bulgartransgaz almost completed all objectives to connect the Greece-Bulgaria interconnector with their network. Now it’s ready to take delivery of additional natural gas via the pipeline from October 1.