Bulgaria’s quest for a ‘hub’ draws major interest

In early September about 17 international energy companies will come together to discuss a Balkan gas hub concept promoted by the Bulgarian government and supported by the European Commission (EC), the government said.

The stakeholder investor roundtable meeting in Varna September 5-6 is organized by the Bulgarian authorities and the EC. Energy giants from Europe – including UK BP, Austrian OMV, Russian Gazprom, Greece’s Depa, Azerbaijans SOCAR and Germany’s RWE – as well as US Cheniere Energy – will attend, according to reports.

Bulgaria’s prime minister Boyko Borissov proposed the gas hub, to be built near the city of Varna, days after Russia scrapped the Gazprom-led South Stream pipeline project over objections from the EC, suggesting a different idea of what a hub is from the conventional, virtual trading point such as the Dutch title transfer facility.

The ambitious new project foresees gas in the hub to be supplied from Russia, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan as well as from Bulgaria and Romania, Borissov said at a high level energy meeting in Sofia last February. According to him, the government and the EC are jointly developing the project and securing funding for it.

He said Bulgaria would need about Euros 2.2bn to build the hub, which besides the pipeline gas can distribute LNG from terminals in Greece.