Prices Drop as Bulgarian-Greek Gas Connection Starts Operations

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (2nd R) attends the official ceremony marking the start of commercial operations of the gas interconnector between between Greece and Bulgaria.

Sofia (dpa) - A new natural gas pipeline that stretches from Greece to Bulgaria started operations on Saturday with the aim of boosting Europe's energy independence from Russia.


"Today, a new era for Bulgaria and south-east Europe begins," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the inauguration ceremony in the Bulgarian capital Sofia.


"This pipeline is a game-changer. It's a game-changer for Bulgaria and for Europe's energy security. And it means freedom from dependency on Russian gas," she said, noting that Bulgaria at one point had been receiving 80% of its gas from Russia.


Indeed, shortly after the opening of the pipeline, gas prices in Bulgaria promptly dropped by a third, to 233.36 lev ($116.90) per megawatt hour. The price was set by the KEWR regulator on Saturday.


The 182-kilometre-long gas pipeline between the northern Greek town of Komotini and Stara Zagora in central Bulgaria was supported by EU funds from the outset of the project in 2009.


The interconnector pipeline, which has a capacity of 3 billion to 5 billion cubic metres of gas per year, links Bulgaria to the Trans Adriatic Pipeline. This routes natural gas from Azerbaijan via Turkey to Greece and on to Italy.


Von der Leyen emphasized that the entire gas consumption of Bulgaria could be covered thanks to the new connection to Greece.


"Through strategic cooperation between Bulgaria and Greece, we can achieve stability in the region," Bulgarian President Rumen Radev said.


The inauguration was also attended by the presidents of Azerbaijan, North Macedonia and Serbia - Ilham Aliyev, Stevo Pendarovski and Aleksandar Vučić - as well as the prime ministers of Greece and Romania.