The interconnector with Greece successfully crossed the Maritsa River
The project was presented as a key opportunity for Bulgaria's energy transition to greener and more sustainable solutions during a round table within the Three Seas Initiative
The construction of the gas interconnector with Greece remains on schedule in compliance with the agreed contractual deadlines, and one of the two most complex stages has just been successfully completed – the HDD crossing of the pipeline under Maritsa River near Dimitrovgrad. This was announced during a round table held in Sofia as part of the Bulgarian hosting of the Three Seas Initiative under the aegis of President Rumen Radev.
During the event, the Executive Officer of the project company ICGB Teodora Georgieva presented the current progress of the interconnector with Greece and outlined the important role that IGB can play in Bulgaria's energy transition to greener and more sustainable solutions. "The EU is setting high goals for green economy and achieving a zero-carbon footprint, and there will undoubtedly be a transitional period during which new solutions in this direction will be gradually introduced in an economically rational manner. This is also the path that awaits Bulgaria, where natural gas can play a key role as a transitional energy source. A sensible and effective solution would be to switch the coal-fired thermal power plants in the country to natural gas. This will also enable synergy with the IGB pipeline. Such a transformation will significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions and will optimize the costs of these companies, which would inevitably have a positive effect on energy consumers in the country. This model will bring Bulgaria closer to the common goals of the EU and will help us make the first steps on the road to hydrogen and full decarbonization. It is extremely important for our country to have a clear dedicated plan for the implementation of the goals and the transition to a green economy, "Georgieva said.
According to her, IGB’s construction activities are progressing at a stable pace and the infrastructure is expected to be ready by the end of 2021. Over 100 km of the pipeline are ready and lowered in the trench, with less than 25 km remaining to be welded. The crossing of the interconnector under Maritsa River near Dimitrovgrad has also been successfully completed. "This was one of the biggest technical challenges in the project, primarily due to the complex geology under the river bed. The whole process took a total of 28 days, and the final phase - pulling the entire pipeline section - took more than 10 hours of continuous operation," Georgieva noted. The length of the section is 422 m, and the crossing is done by the method of horizontal directional drilling (HDD). The quality control is carried out on site by representatives of ICGB, the EPC Contractor, the Owner’s Engineer and the specialized subcontractor tasked with the drilling. A number of tests are carried out and a significant amount of QA/QC documentation is drafted before ICGB can accept the job as successfully completed. When finished at the Maritza River, the field teams are preparing to start work on the crossing under Studen Kladenets Dam, the second HDD crossing with a total length of 1420 m.
The presentation of the project was one of the main highlights of the energy panel of the business forum, which took place as part of the Three Seas Initiative. IGB will connect the Greek gas transmission system of DESFA and TAP near Komotini with the Bulgarian gas transmission system near Stara Zagora. The interconnector is part of the Vertical Gas Corridor - Greece - Bulgaria - Romania - Hungary, providing access to natural gas from the Southern Gas Corridor and LNG to Southeast and Central Europe, as well as to Ukraine. The project will contribute to the diversification of sources and to the increased security of natural gas supplies for both Bulgaria and the region. The gas interconnector with Greece also provides access to the gas transmission network for Bulgarian municipalities and regions that have not yet had the option of connectivity. The project is among the main priorities in the energy sector of the national governments of Greece and Bulgaria and receives strong support from the EC, the EIB and foreign partners such as the United States and Azerbaijan. The interconnector will be put into commercial operation no later than July 1st, 2022.
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