Gazprom’s Monopoly in Bulgaria Challenged by Greek Gas Company

The national gas company of Bulgaria, Bulgargaz, has agreed to buy 1.5 million megawatt hours of natural gas from Greece’s Public Gas Corporation (DEPA), the first time the state provider has bought gas outside its long-term contract with Russia’s Gazprom, Reuters reports.

Bulgargaz will pump the gas into its Chiren underground storage facility after completing the purchase in the second quarter of this year, the company said on Tuesday.

More than 95 percent of the Balkan country’s gas needs are currently met by supplies from Russia’s Gazprom, delivered through a pipeline crossing Ukraine, Moldova, and Romania.

Bulgargaz said DEPA had offered the lowest price in a tender at which the state provider also received offers from Bulgaria’s Dexia and Dutch-registered Kolmar NL.

Last month Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said he was expecting Azeri state energy company Socar to start investing in Bulgaria’s retail gas distribution network this year.

Sofia plans to meet up to 30 percent of its gas needs beyond 2020 through purchases from Azerbaijan under its contract to import 1 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas a year from the Shah Deniz II gas field in the Caspian Sea.

In February, Bulgaria said it successfully completed a third market test for the Turkish Stream natural gas pipeline, known as TurkStream, and will move forward with plans to join the project by investing $1.7 billion to build the new gas link.

TurkStream is part of Russia’s plans to bypass Ukraine, currently the main transit route for Russian gas to Europe and strengthen its position in the European market. The pipeline will transport Russian gas from Bulgaria’s border with Turkey to Serbia, and then to Hungary and Slovakia.