H.E. Rubin: We do not want you to fall prey to Russia's energy coercion

Transparent markets, security and diversification are essential to reducing reliance on Russian natural gas

Nearly 39% of Europe's natural gas imports come from Russia, while 13 European countries rely heavily on Russian supplies. These numbers were presented by US Ambassador to Sofia, H.E. Eric Rubin during an energy roundtable in Sofia.

“Today, 13 European countries continue to rely on Russian gas for 75% or more of their annual needs. Bulgaria is one of those countries,” the US ambassador noted, adding that this reliance could grow as EU gas production declines.

“The projects (editor's note - Nord Stream 2 and the second line of TurkStream) also pose real political challenges. As Secretary Perry said, these 'are not commercial projects… They are naked political gambits aimed at driving a wedge between Europeans. They would increase Russia's leverage over Europe's foreign policy'… They would do nothing to diminish reliance (Bulgaria's including) on Russian gas,” said Ambassador Rubin. He believes that transparent energy markets are of crucial importance, as is ensuring security and diversification.

“Bulgaria's energy security is guaranteed, gas supplies are following their regular regime, there is no cause for concern,” said Minister of Energy Temenuzhka Petkova in relation to the Sea of Azov situation and the transit of natural gas to Bulgaria.

Bulgaria has a contract with Greece that includes a reverse flow option. In addition, the country has reserves in the natural gas storage facility in Chiren. “Like any other EU Member State, our country is obligated under the EU energy security regulations to have a contingency plan in case of energy supply disruptions, and it does,” explained Petkova, who took part in the Energy Security Risks and Energy Security Agenda in Southeast Europe roundtable.

A contract with the European Investment Bank, securing funding for the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB), is expected to be signed by the end of December. “This is one of the key natural gas projects for the Balkan region. It is no coincidence that the IGB was designated by the European Commission as one of seven top energy sector priorities for our European family,” said Petkova, adding that the project's realisation is an irreversible process at this point.

The first interconnector between Bulgaria and Romania is already a reality, as the minister reminded. What is left is for a compressor station enabling reverse gas flow to be built on Romanian soil. The interconnector between Bulgaria and Serbia should be ready by May 2022. Petkova pointed to joining the construction of the LNG terminal in Alexandroupolis, Greece, as another option to diversify natural gas sources.

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