Greek company Gastrade said on Wednesday that its planned floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal off the city of Alexandroupolis is set to start supplying neighbouring countries in Southeast Europe (SEE) by the end of 2023, after construction was formally given a kick-off on May 3.
Gastrade is also moving to develop a second LNG terminal offshore Alexandroupolis, the Thrace Independent Natural Gas System (Thrace INGS), in the Sea of Thrace, at the northernmost part of the Aegean Sea, Gastrade, in which Bulgarian transmission operator Bulgartransgaz owns a 20% stake, said in a press release.
The second Floating Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU) facility could potentially extend LNG supply to Moldova and Ukraine.
The LNG import terminals are seen as a crucial means to guarantee alternative supplies of gas to SEE from the US, Qatar, Egypt and elsewhere, boosting the region's energy security and independence from Russian gas, at a time when three EU countries, including Bulgaria, have been cut off from Gazprom supplies.
"Alexandroupolis is the gateway and Bulgaria is the connecting link of the supply chain that this project comes to supply, on the way to Serbia and Romania. The second FSRU, which was licensed by the Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE) last Thursday, allows for the further extension of this chain to Moldova and Ukraine. With these two projects, we are contributing to the creation of a real regional energy hub in the region that will strengthen the economy, security and cooperation," Gastrade vice president and CEO Konstantinos Sifnaios said.
The Alexandroupolis FSRU has contracted up to 60% of its technical capacity for converting LNG into natural gas, which totals 5.5 billion cu m per year. Construction is funded by a direct EU grant of 166.7 million euro ($175.5 million).
The FSRU, which has a capacity of 153,500 cu m of LNG, will be connected to Greece's National Natural Gas Transmission System (NNGΤS) with a 28 km long pipeline, through which the gasified LNG will be carried to the markets of Greece, Bulgaria and the wider SEE region.
The go-ahead for the construction of the FRSU was officially given by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his Bulgarian counterpart Kiril Petkov, at a ceremony attended by European Council President Charles Michel, Serbia's president Aleksandar Vucic and North Macedonia's Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski.