EU chief: New Greece-Bulgaria gas pipeline 'means freedom'

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) - The President of the European Union's executive branch traveled to Bulgaria on Saturday to open a natural gas link between the country and Greece and stressed the EU's determination to stop relying on Russian energy imports.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen hailed the pipeline at a ceremony in Sofia as an important contribution to curtailing Russia's ability to use its gas and oil reserves to blackmail or punish the EU.
“This pipeline changes the energy security situation for Europe. This project means freedom,” von der Leyen told an audience that included leaders from the region.
ADVERTISEMENT
The European Commission has pledged almost 250 million euros to finance the project, said von der Leyen.
The importance of the Greece-Bulgaria gas interconnector, completed in July, has increased significantly after Moscow decided to turn its gas supplies into a political weapon.
A second European pipeline came on stream on Saturday as fuel flowed through the new Baltic Pipe, which was being built to transport gas from Norway's North Sea deposits, through Denmark and across the seabed of the Baltic Sea to a compressor station in north-west Poland. Full capacity is expected to be reached next year.
Polish, Danish and Norwegian officials opened the pipeline in northern Poland on Tuesday, emphasizing its role in the region's independence from Russian natural gas.
ADVERTISEMENT
Russia has halted some of its gas supplies to Europe to demonstrate its opposition to EU sanctions over the war in Ukraine. Unusual leaks this week at the two Nord Stream pipelines carrying Russian gas to Germany exacerbated concerns about Europe's energy security.
In late April, Russia halted gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland after rejecting Moscow's demand that it pay for supplies in rubles, Russia's currency. Relations between the former Soviet bloc allies have deteriorated in recent months over the war in Ukraine. Last month, Bulgaria ordered the expulsion of 70 Russian diplomats, prompting an angry reaction from Moscow.
“People in Bulgaria and across Europe are feeling the consequences of the Russian war. But thanks to projects like this, Europe will have enough fuel for the winter,” said von der Leyen. “Europe has everything it needs to free itself from our dependence on Russia. It's a question of political will.
The 182-kilometer pipeline runs from the northeast Greek city of Komotini, where it connects to the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, to Stara Zagora in central Bulgaria. An initial capacity of 3 billion cubic meters of gas per year is planned with the prospect of future expansion to 5 billion cubic meters.
The Bulgarian leader of the project, Teodora Georgieva, said the pipeline would help supply other countries in south-eastern Europe.
"We have the ability to supply gas to the Western Balkans to ensure supplies to Moldova and Ukraine," Georgieva said.
Planned since the early 2000s, the Baltic Pipe was given the green light in 2016 by Poland's current right-wing government, which wants to make the country completely independent of Russian energy sources.
The entire offshore route is approximately 275 kilometers (170 miles) long. The expansion in Denmark consists of an approximately 210-kilometer pipeline, a new compressor station and the expansion of a receiving terminal.
The project was financially supported by the European Union.
___
Scislowska reported from Warsaw, Poland.
___
Follow AP's coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Last News

Just like Richard Fierro in Colorado Springs, data shows that 64 unarmed civilians have apprehended the gunman in mass shootings since 2000

Just like Richard Fierro in Colorado Springs, data shows that 64 unarmed civilians have apprehended the gunman in mass shootings since 2000

You better have good insurance before you brave one of the 10 deadliest roads in the US

You better have good insurance before you brave one of the 10 deadliest roads in the US

Dodi Al Fayed's Ex-Girlfriend Kelly Fisher Sued Him Days Before His Death

Dodi Al Fayed's Ex-Girlfriend Kelly Fisher Sued Him Days Before His Death