The region has been historically dependent on Russian gas imports, but can also receive gas from Azerbaijan and regasified LNG via the Greek LNG terminal at Revithoussa.
Petkov said in comments posted to the Bulgarian government website during a visit to Belgrade:
- We have great potential to create a single market for gas trade
- Our relations with Serbia, North Macedonia and Greece can be united under a common market for gas trade
- We must join forces in the direction of maximum diversification - this will give us better prices and greater independence
Bulgaria and Serbia already linked their gas networks at the end of 2020 to allow Russian gas imported via the TurkStream pipeline to reach Serbia via an expanded grid.
Flows began at the start of 2021.
Work on the construction of a new Bulgaria-Serbia gas interconnector began on Feb. 1, 2022, with plans for the pipeline to become operational in October 2023.
The 170 km Bulgaria-Serbia interconnector is separate from the TurkStream link and will run from the Bulgarian Sofia via Dimitrovgrad in Serbia to Nis, giving Serbia a non-Russian supply option for the 1st time.
It will enable Serbia to import gas via Greece and Bulgaria from the Southern Gas Corridor - bringing gas from Azerbaijan to southern Europe - and as regasified LNG from the existing and planned LNG terminals in Greece.
The Bulgaria-Serbia interconnector has secured a Eur49.5 million grant from the EU and a European Investment Bank loan of Eur25 million.
The pipeline - which will have a capacity of 1.8 Bcm/year in the direction Bulgaria-Serbia with the possibility also of reverse flow - will run for around 62 km in Bulgaria and 108 km in Serbia.
There are also plans for a new interconnector to link the gas grids of Greece and North Macedonia.
The gas grid operators of the 2 countries in September 2021 signed a new gas cooperation agreement, a key step ahead of construction of the new link.
The 123 km pipeline will have an initial capacity of 1.5 Bcm/year, but this could be doubled.
A final investment decision is expected in early 2022.
Greece, meanwhile, already has 1 operating LNG import terminal at Revithoussa, which started operations in 2000, but the government is supporting a 2nd plant as part of efforts to make the country into a regional gas hub.
Gastrade last month took the final investment decision for the planned 5.5 Bcm/year floating LNG import terminal at Alexandroupolis in Greece, paving the way for the project to begin operations by the end of 2023.
Regasified LNG entering the terminal will be able to flow onward to other markets in the region including Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, North Macedonia, Moldova and Ukraine.
Bulgaria is also building a new interconnector with Greece - the IGB - which will allow Azeri gas to flow to Bulgaria and for regasified Greek LNG to reach Bulgaria and Serbia.
The pipeline is expected to come online in July 2022.
The planned improvements in regional gas interconnectivity come as European gas prices remain at sustained highs, having hit all-time record levels in December on winter supply concerns.
The TTF day-ahead price hit an all-time high of Eur182.78/MWh on Dec. 21, an increase of 985% year on year, according to S&P Global Platts price assessments.
Prices have cooled since, though they remain high, with the TTF day-ahead contract assessed Feb. 8 at Eur75.80/MWh, still a year-on-year increase of 265%.