Bulgaria and Serbia signed on Friday an agreement to connect their gas transmission systems by the end of 2015, the European Commission said.
The agreement to put in place the first gas interconnector between the two neighbouring countries was signed in Brussels by Bulgarian prime minister Boiko Borisov and his Serbian counterpart Ivica Dacic in the presence of the European Commissioner for Energy, Guenther Oettinger, the EU executive said.
The Nis-Dimitrovgrad-Sofia bi-directional pipeline will contribute to the security of the gas supply of the two countries while also being critical to the development of the gas market of the entire region. The investment required for the 180 kilometre pipeline, with a capacity of around 1.8 billion cubic meters per year, is estimated at 100-120 million euro ($131-157 million). The first gas should flow by the end of 2015, the statement said.
The feasibility studies recently completed with the financial support of the European Union's Western Balkans Investment Framework and European Regional Development Fund have confirmed the viability of the cross-border project. Further financial assistance of the European Union funds is likely to be sought for the construction of the pipeline.
With this agreement in place, investment decisions on both sides of the border can now be taken to enable the completion of project design and the start of construction by July 2014, the Commission said.