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Bulgaria eyes Egyptian gas imports

Sofia, December 4, 2008

Bulgaria wants to start importing as much as 1 billion cubic metres of gas a year from Egypt from 2011-12 if pipeline links are completed, Bulgaria's economy and energy minister Petar Dimitrov said on Thursday.

Dimitrov and Egypt's Oil Minister Sameh Fahmy agreed to prepare a memorandum on cooperation next year that would also include possible liquefied natural gas supplies and participation of Bulgarian companies in gas and oil exploration in Egypt, they said.

'A working group will look at the concrete possibilities for gas supplies. We are talking today 0.5 to 1.0 bcm starting 2011-2012,' Fahmy, who is on a visit to Sofia, told reporters.

Russia's Gazprom supplies more than 90 percent of Bulgaria's gas. Sofia is also holding talks about gas imports from Azerbaijan.

Dimitrov said Bulgaria could import Egyptian gas through an existing Turkey-Greece-Italy pipeline provided Turkey and Egypt moved ahead with linking their gas networks.

Building a link between Egypt and Turkey is also crucial to securing Egyptian supplies for the European Union-backed Nabucco gas pipeline project, he said.

'Egypt will play an important role for the realisation of this project,' Dimitrov said, adding that Sofia had invited Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to attend a summit of head of states to discuss speeding up Nabucco in Bulgaria in April.

The euro7.9 billion Nabucco project - designed to pump gas from the Caspian and the Middle East via Turkey and the Balkans to Austria - aims to diversify gas supplies to Europe by reducing dependence on Russian gas from 2013.

The project's main challenge is securing supplies and so far only Azerbaijan has agreed to deliver gas.

Fahmy said it was too early to say how much gas Egypt could potentially ship via the Nabucco. 'Nabucco is still only a vision,' he said.

'We are following it closely and as soon as Nabucco is realised and the pipeline is under construction we will start talking with the partners about supplying gas not only from Egypt but from the region.'

Nabucco's shareholders are Austria's OMV, Hungary's MOL, Romania's Transgaz, Bulgaria's Bulgargaz, Turkey's Botas and Germany's RWE.-Reuters




Tags: Egypt | Bulgaria | gas imports |

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