A delayed natural gas pipeline between Bulgaria and Romania that was supposed to be completed in 2013 will purportedly become operational later in 2016.
“The interconnector will be completed by the end of this year,” Corina Popescu, Romania’s secretary of state at the Ministry of Energy, said at an energy traders conference on Wednesday according to Reuters.
Work on the planned 25-kilometer pipeline that would be primarily situated in Bulgaria first commenced in 2012 but has been hampered by technical difficulties.
Once completed the channel is expected to transfer a maximum of 1.5 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas per year from Bulgaria to Romania while the capacity in the opposite direction will be 500 million cubic meters per year.
Romania produces approximately 11 bcm of gas per year, which fulfills about 75 percent of its annual needs, while the remaining quarter is imported from Russia. Bulgaria, meanwhile, is said to be “almost fully reliant on Russian imports”. Energy demands for both states were dealt a blow when Russia in December 2014 decided to scrap its South Stream pipeline project.
Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted last week that plans for South Stream were not canceled in their entirety.
Nevertheless, both Romania and Bulgaria over the past eighteen months have sought natural gas alliances with other countries and tried to lessen their dependence on Russian supplies.
Bulgaria has sought to build a gas link with Greece, while both countries joined 13 other European states in a comprehensive energy pact that includes expediting the building of gas links and developing a fully integrated energy market.
Popescu also declared intentions of completing a 171-kilometer, 400-kilovolt power line with Serbia by 2017.
Romanian natural gas companies have come under scrutiny over allegations of blocking gas exports to several European Union (EU) countries. EU antitrust regulators on June 6th raided the offices of state-owned Transgaz, Romgaz and OMV Petrom.