Serbia Opens New Gas Pipeline Interconnector to Reduce Reliance on Russian Energy

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Serbia Opens New Gas Pipeline Interconnector to Reduce Reliance on Russian Energy

Flags of Bulgaria & Serbia (© Shutterstock/esfera)
Flags of Bulgaria & Serbia (© Shutterstock/esfera)

Serbia has completed the construction of an interconnector to a pipeline in Bulgaria, a key step in diversifying its gas supplies and reducing its dependence on Russia.

According to a Reuters report, the interconnector, connecting the town of Novi Iskar in Bulgaria to the Serbian city of Nis, will allow Belgrade to access gas from Azerbaijan and the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal in the Greek port of Alexandroupolis.

With a capacity of 1.8 billion cubic meters per year, the pipeline can meet 60% of Serbia's annual gas needs. The project received significant funding from the European Union, with €49.6 million ($53.37 million) provided by the European Commission and €25 million from the European Investment Bank. Serbia contributed €22.5 million.

"With this interconnector, we are securing alternative gas supplies, apart from the Russian gas," said Serbian Energy Minister Dubravka Djedovic Handanovic.

The inauguration ceremony in Nis was attended by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Bulgarian President Rumen Radev.

"Today we are changing the energy map of Europe," Radev said, adding that the interconnector is critical for bolstering the energy supply for the entire region.

“The war in Ukraine made us think about good neighborly relations and support."

On November 15th, Serbia signed a deal with Azerbaijan to purchase 400 million cubic meters of natural gas per year starting in 2024.

"If in 2021, our gas exports to Europe totalled a little more than 8 billion cubic metres, then this year the volume of supplies will reach around 12 billion cubic metres," Aliyev said.

He added that European countries now account for half of all Azerbaijan's gas deliveries and that Baku is aiming to double its gas supplies to Europe to 20 billion cubic meters by 2027.

As a result of the war in Ukraine and subsequent cuts in Russian gas supplies, Europe is actively seeking alternative energy sources, with Azerbaijan emerging as a key player.

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