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Energy cooperation between Bulgaria and Azerbaijan develops at increasing pace

BAKU, Azerbaijan, May 9. Energy cooperation between Bulgaria and Azerbaijan is developing at an increasing pace, and already in 2024, Azerbaijan will cover 55 natural gas needs of this Balkan state, TurkicWorld reports.

The foundation of gas cooperation between the two states was laid on September 13, 2013, when Bulgarian holding Bulgargaz EAD signed a 25-year contract with the Shah Deniz consortium for the purchase of gas from this Azerbaijani gas condensate field in the Caspian Sea in the amount of one billion cubic meters of gas per year.

"Bulgargaz EAD was among the nine European companies and holdings that signed long-term agreements for the purchase and sale of Shahdeniz gas in the fall of 2013, thanks to which the final investment decision on the full-scale development of this field was approved in Baku on December 17, 2013, which launched the process of creating the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) and allowed Azerbaijan to enter the European market with its gas from December 2020.

The SGC project influenced Bulgaria's decision to build a connection to this gas corridor, the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB), as well as to consider the possibility of transiting Azerbaijani gas through Bulgaria to other European countries.

SOCAR and Bulgartransgaz signed a Memorandum of Understanding on July 18, 2017, which reflected the opportunities for cooperation between the two companies on the prospects of creating additional natural gas supply routes through Bulgaria to other markets in Southeast Europe, SOCAR's participation in the Balkan Gas Hub, as well as the transit of additional volumes of natural gas from the South Gas Complex beyond the volumes agreed in 2013 with the Shah Deniz consortium.

All the set tasks have been realized, and Azerbaijan has fulfilled and is fulfilling all its commitments.

Particularly, despite the delay in the construction of the IGB (the foundation of this gas pipeline was laid on May 22, 2019, and the pipeline was commissioned in the summer of 2022), Azerbaijan ensured gas supplies to Bulgaria already from the beginning of 2021 through the Kulata-Sidirokastro delivery point on the existing gas pipeline from Bulgaria to Greece with a capacity of 10 million cubic meters of gas per day.

Thanks to this, Bulgaria received more than 300 million cubic meters of gas in 2021.

The combination of this route and the commissioning of the IGB gas pipeline on October 1, 2022, allowed Azerbaijan to supply a total of 600 million cubic meters of gas to Bulgaria in 2022.

Following the negotiations between Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Bulgarian President Rumen Radev in Baku on May 8, 2024, the results of gas supplies from Azerbaijan to Bulgaria in 2023 and plans for 2024 were announced in a press statement.

President Ilham Aliyev stated in his speech that "1 billion, 250 million cubic meters of Azerbaijani gas was transported to the Bulgarian market last year."

"Our calculations indicate that by the end of this year, the volume of export supplies of Azerbaijani gas to Bulgaria will amount to 1.5 bcm. That is, expressing the language of the European Commission, Azerbaijan is expanding its activities in the European space as a pan-European gas supplier and spares no effort to support the solution of issues related to energy security," the head of state noted.

According to him, Bulgaria has become an important transit country for gas transportation.

"Azerbaijani gas is currently exported from the territory of Bulgaria to its neighboring countries, and undoubtedly, the number of these countries will grow in the future. That is, this is a concrete result of our cooperation, a logical outcome of our very strong bilateral relations, as our cooperation should have concrete results. That is, the main goal of cooperation is to achieve better results. We see it both in the growth of trade turnover and cooperation in the energy sector," the press statement of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said.

Meanwhile, through the territory of Bulgaria, Azerbaijani gas goes to Romania and Serbia.

Bulgarian President Rumen Radev stressed after negotiations in Baku on May 8 that Azerbaijan has become an important and decisive partner for Bulgaria in the energy sector and plays an important role in diversifying Bulgaria's gas supply.

"In the fall of 2022, with the participation of President Ilham Aliyev in the city of Sofia, we started using the IGB gas network and thus the Southern Gas Corridor connected to Central and Eastern Europe," the Bulgarian President said.

SOCAR representative office has been operating in Sofia since April 25, 2023, which not only deals with projects in Bulgaria but also covers the entire Balkan region.

Viewing Azerbaijan as a reliable strategic partner, Bulgaria expressed interest in SOCAR's assistance in the gasification of its small towns, and this initiative was reflected in the Memorandum of Understanding signed on May 8, 2024, between the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) and the Bulgarian holding Asarel (one of the largest industrial holdings in the Balkan region).

The project of laying a "green" energy cable for future energy supplies from Azerbaijan's renewable energy sources facilities through Georgia and the Black Sea to Europe was also discussed during the negotiations in Baku.

"Azerbaijan is working very actively in this direction with partner countries, including Bulgaria. We believe that the feasibility study of this project, which will be ready in a few months, will be an excellent basis for the start of work. Thus, Azerbaijan will prove itself as a supplier to Europe not only of oil and gas but also of "green" energy," President Ilham Aliyev emphasized on May 8.

The Head of State also stated that he invited President Radev to Azerbaijan to participate in the COP29 conference.

According to President Ilham Aliyev, the potential for cooperation between the two countries is wide.

Besides, Bulgarian companies will take part in "Baku Energy Week" in June, and the regular meeting of the Commission for Cooperation between the governments of Azerbaijan and Bulgaria will be held in early July.

Therefore, the interaction between the two countries is progressive and important not only for bilateral but also for multilateral cooperation.

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