SOFIA, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Bulgaria plans to cover about 30 percent of its gas needs beyond 2020 with natural gas from Azerbaijan, reducing its almost total dependence on Russian gas, Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova said on Tuesday.
The Balkan country has a contract with Azeri state company SOCAR to import 1 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas a year from the Shah Deniz II field.
“The contract between Bulgargaz and SOCAR for the supply of 1 bcm from Shah Deniz II from 2020 is key for our energy priorities,” Petkova said at the opening of a meeting of a Bulgarian-Azeri economic commission in Sofia.
“These supplies will meet about 30 percent of Bulgarian consumption, which is a major share and will significantly increase the country’s energy security.”
At present, more than 95 percent of Bulgaria’s gas needs are met by supplies from Russia’s Gazprom. Russian gas now flows from Ukraine through Romania to Bulgaria.
The proposed Azeri gas imports are expected to come through the IGB gas interconnector pipeline between Bulgaria and Greece, which is expected to become operational at the end of 2020.
Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova Editing by David Goodman