Slovakia's pipeline operator Eustream will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with its counterparts in Romania and Bulgaria on a gas pipeline project aimed at reducing Balkan reliance on Russia, according to Reuters.
Eustream came up with a solution to reduce dependence on Russian gas in the region, so that Bulgaria and Serbia be able to receive gas although gas delivery via Ukraine is suspended.
Thus, the gas would be piped from western European hubs via Slovakia's existing system (which has a capacity of 80 billion cubic metres (bcm) per yer) into Ukraine and then into Romania and on to Bulgaria.
“We expect to sign a memorandum of understanding with both Romanians and Bulgarians within, let's say two weeks," said Eustream Chairman, Tomas Marecek, on the sidelines of a European gas conference in Vienna.
Marecek further explained that the company he heads will act as the major promoter of this project, but they continue talks with other potential shareholders.
The estimated investment will be between 750 million euro and 1.2 billion euro, Eustream considering a joint venture with foreign companies for building the pipeline which has a proposed length of 540 km and a capacity of up to 20 bcm per year.
"We plan to discuss it with the big German names", added Marecek."We will definitely discuss it with OMV and have already discussed it with Gaz de France".
The pipeline would connect Eustream's existing system to Ukraine's Soyuz pipeline, currently under-utilised, leading to the Romanian border.
Apart from providing a solution to the Russian gas problem, albeit partial, the pipeline could ensure transport of gas supplies from Austrian hub or the Caspian Sea and the Mediterranean, concluded the Eustream Chairman.