The first technical activities related to the filling of the IGB gas pipeline have been successfully completed
Preparations for the commercial launch of the IGB pipeline are actively progressing, and since mid-June tests with quantities of natural gas have been underway along the 182-kilometer route of the interconnector. The test volumes are currently 3,700,000 cubic meters.
In the first phase of the tests, the gas is supplied in stages in the direction from Stara Zagora - Komotini. All sections are purged with nitrogen in advance in order to prevent moisture and oxygen remaining in the pipeline. This is one of the mandatory technical requirements for the preparation of infrastructure for commercial operation.
During this stage of the tests, the entire pipeline operates under pressure, which is gradually being increased in accordance with the approved test procedure. The pressure at which the facility will be operating after the start of commercial activities varies depending on the quantities of transported natural gas for the respective day. The IGB pipeline is designed to operate at a maximum pressure of up to 75 bar.
The same process of filling with test quantities of natural gas is to be repeated starting at the gas metering station near the Greek town of Komotini. The facility there is 96% complete - it is almost double the scale compared to the station near Stara Zagora and this affects the time required to conduct the relevant test procedures.
“The system for control and management of the pipeline (Supervisory control and data acquisition or SCADA) is in the process of integration. It will cover all elements of the pipeline’s equipment - two gas measuring stations, eight block valves, cathodic protection, security systems and a dispatch center. At the same time, the functional tests of all other auxiliary equipment necessary for the operation of the interconnector are being performed”, said Teodora Georgieva and Konstantinos Karayannakos, Executive Officers of ICGB. The two noted that these processes include settings for the management of the equipment and the connection between them with parameters for temperature, pressure, emergency activation and status messages. All of them are of utmost importance for the correct and reliable functioning of the technological processes managed by the SCADA system. For this purpose, telecommunication connections are established in advance by means of optical routes.
The Greek company AVAX, which is responsible for the construction of the interconnector, has contractual commitments to carrying out all activities on the pipeline's technical design, including completing reinstatement along the entire length of the route, before handing over the project to ICGB as successfully completed. The reinstatement process is in fact restoration of the top layer of soil along the route of the interconnector so that it can be cultivated once again. At present, 140 km out of a total of 182 km have been reinstated.
From an administrative point of view, there is also a number of tasks for implementation before the start of commercial operation, some of which can be implemented in parallel with the completion of construction and testing activities.
The project company ICGB must be certified as an independent transmission operator in order to have the right to commercially exploit the interconnector. To this end, an approval from the European Commission is expected, which will allow the national energy regulators of Bulgaria and Greece - EWRC and RAE, to issue a final joint decision for certification. This, in turn, will require the introduction of a new ICGB management structure - including the adoption of new internal rules and the election of members of the Management and Supervisory Boards.
Other Bulgarian institutions also have administrative commitments before putting IGB into operation: the Directorate for National Construction Control, the Ministry of Interior - General Directorate "Fire Safety and Protection of the Population", the State Agency for Metrology and Technical Supervision (SAMTS) - General Directorate "Inspectorate for State Technical Supervision", MoEW, Basin Directorate, Road Administration and RHI. An already established working group with representatives of the relevant institutions is working on finding effective ways to shorten the usual deadlines, where possible, in order to have pipeline operational as soon as possible. All relevant institutions and exploitation companies are invited to submit preliminary opinions on commissioning, so that before submitting an application for a marketing authorization, all instructions are followed to the maximum.
Additionally, a Permit for starting a licensing activity must be issued, for which a necessary condition is the signing of Act 15 for the site. The permit for starting a licensing activity is issued by the EWRC and is a condition for the implementation of the natural gas transmission activity.
ICGB relies on political support and actions to optimize administrative deadlines, while the project company's teams are making every effort to complete the pipeline physically and perform functional tests as soon as possible. The main goal, to which the efforts at each level are united, is to bring the IGB into commercial operation as soon as possible. All activities are carried out in strict compliance with the requirements for putting the facility into operation and in compliance with the conditions of the regulatory framework for such sites.
For more information:
Action Global Communications Bulgaria
+359 885 074 422
+359 885 614 131
Gas Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria is co-financed by the European Union's
European Energy Programme for Recovery programme.
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