There is "a clear view" in the region that the Balkan Gas Hub can be carried through, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has said.
While the existing gas transportation network of the country can pump gas as far as Thessaloniki in Greece, countries such as neighboring Serbia hold "a huge interest" in the project, he has argued.
The country could transit as much as 15 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas via Balkan Gas Hub, Borisov has argued. He has made clear Russian gas could also be transported, amid Moscow's statements of skepticism of the project.
"My big dream is that big gas operators come and that we profit from gas transit while simultaneously building our interconnectors with neighboring countries. This is when true diversification will take place," Borisov is heard explaining in an audio file from an event attended by him that was sent by the government press office.
Bulgaria, heavily reliant on Russian gas, seeks to build a gas distribution center that will turn it into a main trasit destination in Southeast Europe, amid its growing concerns of being sidelined by major projects such as Turkish Stream which was formally approved recently.
At the same time the country has not constructed yet its interconnectors with neighbors. Only the one with Greece, Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB), is set to be completed in a matter of few years.
Borisov has also vowed to push for an expansion of the Chiren gas depot, a key storage facility in Bulgaria.
He has confirmed that Sofia will have to pay some EUR 400 M to Russian company Atomstroyexport by the end of the year, as announced by Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova on Saturday.
Russian officials and company representatives will be invited after the payment has been made to discuss possible steps "to stop the interest [from being piled up]" and think how to make up for the loss in budget funding.
An arbitration ruled Bulgaria was to pay more than half a billion EUR to Atomstroyexport over the failure of Belene nuclear plant project, which Borisov's previous government scrapped, but would also receive nuclear reactors and other equipment produced specifically for the plant after transferring the sum.
Borisov is now considering options to use the reactors instead of "putting them in a museum", and has also suggested Belene NPP might be revived and needs to be additionally studied by a Bulgaria-Russia workgroup.
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