Turkey, Bulgaria sign long-term gas deal

Bulgaria on Tuesday signed a long-term agreement with Turkey, granting it access to the neighboring country’s terminals for liquefied natural gas (LNG) and its network to transit supplies to its border.

The 13-year deal foresees a transport of up to 1.5 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas per year and will help increase the security of supplies in southeastern Europe, Turkey’s Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez said. The agreement between Bulgaria’s state gas company Bulgargaz and Turkish state gas firm BOTAŞ will give Bulgaria access to Turkey’s gas network and LNG terminals to help bring in supplies. Bulgaria, which was almost fully dependent on Russian gas, is trying to secure alternative gas supplies at affordable prices after Moscow cut off deliveries in April 2022 over Sofia’s refusal to pay in rubles.

Under the agreement, the natural gas that Bulgaria will acquire from international markets will be processed in Turkey, before being delivered by a pipeline after being made ready for use. Bulgargaz will be able to use Turkey s LNG terminals for cargo shipments, which would be transported via BOTAŞ’s gas network to Bulgaria. “It will make a great contribution to the security of the natural gas supply of Europe, especially Bulgaria. This is also one of the important steps for Turkey to become a gas hub,” Dönmez said.

His Bulgarian counterpart, Rossen Hristov, said with the deal, “we are securing the opportunity to buy gas from all global producers and offload it in Turkey, which best suits Bulgaria logistically.” Hristov has said Bulgaria wants to book a capacity of about 1 bcm of gas per year at Turkish LNG terminals and seal import deals with European and U.S. LNG producers. Bookings for 2023 will be less, because Bulgargaz has already won tenders for slots at the LNG terminal Revithoussa near the Greek city of Alexandroupoli (Dedeağaç) for several months.

At present, the European Union country imports 1 bcm of gas a year from Azerbaijan and covers the rest of its needs, about 3 bcm per year, through LNG imports from Greece. Under the energy ministry plans, Bulgaria will cover a third of its gas needs with LNG gas imports through Turkey, one-third through the Greek LNG terminal, which should become operational in 2024, and one-third with Azerbaijani supplies.

Turkey imports Russian gas and Moscow has proposed setting up a hub for Russian gas in Turkey. Hristov has said Bulgaria cannot control what gas will enter Bulgaria, but that Sofia would make sure it signs deals for LNG deliveries that are not from Russia. /BGNES