SOFIA, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Bulgaria plans to become a shareholder in a liquefied natural gas terminal off the coast of northern Greece by the end of the year as the Balkan country tries to diversify its energy supplies, Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova said on Wednesday.
The government has been considering a stake of about 25 percent in the development of a floating facility off the Greek city of Alexandroupolis for over two years and will most likely participate with state gas company Bulgartransgaz.
“Bulgaria is considering to become a shareholder in the project. Thus we can ensure natural gas supplies from different sources, including from the United States,” Petkova said in a statement after meeting the U.S. ambassador to Bulgaria.
At present, over 95 percent of Bulgaria’s gas needs are met by supplies from Russia’s Gazprom.
Gastrade, part of Greek energy group Copelouzos, is developing the project to build the terminal off the coast near the northern Greek city of Alexandroupolis and on Tuesday launched a market test for the facility.
The LNG terminal, with an estimated annual capacity of 6.1 billion cubic metres (bcm), will aim to supply gas to southeastern Europe via a natural gas pipeline that will cross through Greece, the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB).
Petkova said the IGB pipeline is expected to become operational in the second half of 2020.
Last October Greek state energy company DEPA agreed to participate in the project. A source familiar with the project said then that Gastrade planned to hold at least a 20 percent stake in the project, with LNG carrier operator GasLog another 20 percent.
Cheniere Energy, a U.S-based LNG exporter, has also expressed interest in the project. ($1 = 0.8837 euros) (Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)