The interconnector is expected to help diversify supplies following a decrease in energy imports from Russia
Construction works commenced on Wednesday on a 171 kilometer-long (106 miles) Bulgaria-Serbia natural gas interconnector pipeline, which is designed to diversify the two nations' supplies.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Bulgarian President Rumen Radev marked the official opening. The two nations already linked their gas networks at the end of 2020 to allow Russian energy imported via the TurkStream pipeline to reach Serbia through an expanded grid.
The new pipeline will run from the Bulgarian capital Sofia via Dimitrovgrad in Serbia to Nis. It will reportedly have a capacity of 1.8 billion cubic meters a year, providing an additional 80% capacity increase relative to Serbia's current annual gas needs.
The interconnector will enable Belgrade to import energy from the Southern Gas Corridor and to further supply it to southern Europe.
According to Vucic, Serbia will become a gas transit nation for other countries in the Western Balkans thanks to the new interconnector pipeline.
"You know that we built our central 402 kilometer-long (249 miles) gas pipeline a year and a half ago, but we need additional volumes, so the interconnector with Bulgaria is important in order to receive gas from other sources," he told reporters. "Unlike a significant part of Europe, Serbia is not aimed at de-industrialization, but rather re-industrialization, and we will need more gas," he added.
Vucic noted that the new gas pipeline will connect Serbia with Bulgaria, Greece and other EU countries and will enable natural gas imports from Azerbaijan.
Russia is currently Serbia's only provider of natural gas. Belgrade has already secured 2.2 billion cubic meters of gas annually, which covers 62% of the country's demands. The country's current contract with Russia's Gazprom expires on May 31, and officials expect to sign a new ten-year deal.
They also plan to start receiving liquefied natural gas from Greece and natural gas from Azerbaijan in September to increase energy security.
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