Greece ratified on Wednesday the environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the Gas Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB Pipeline), which will link directly the two countries' national natural gas systems, the Athens News Agency - Macedonian Press Agency reported.
The pipeline will be of decisive significance for the energy security of Greece and Bulgaria, the news agency quoted environment and energy minister Yiannis Maniatis as saying upon signing the document. It will also help set up the Southern Gas Corridor and will serve as a gate to the supply of Caspian natural gas to Southeast European markets, he added.
The IGB Pipeline will carry 3.0 billion cubic metres (bcm) of natural gas anually in its initial stage and will have a maximum capacity of 5.0 bcm per year. It will be eventually connected to the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), carrying natural gas from the Caspian Sea to Europe through Greece.
The IGB Pipeline is 182 km long, will start at the northeastern Greek city of Komotini and end at Stara Zagora in Bulgaria. It is estimated to cost 220 million euro ($330 million).
The project has received 45 million euro in EU financial support throught the European Energy Programme for Recovery (EEPR) and has also been included by the European Commission in a proposal to the European Parliament for funding through the Projects of Common Interest programme, a final decision on which is expected by mid-2014.
Construction is expected to begin in autumn 2014, with the pipeline becoming operational by early 2016.