IGB Pipeline on Track to Receive Operation License in Greece

(P&GJ) — The Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB) pipeline, which is on track for commercial launch on October 1, is in the final stage of completion and administrative procedures for granting operational license and Right of Use acts are ongoing in both countries.

The project connects Bulgaria to the Southern Gas Corridor and will enable secure supplies from a variety of sources to countries in Southeast and Central Europe, including Moldova and Ukraine. IGB is of key importance for increasing the security of gas supplies and for ensuring the diversification of natural gas sources for Bulgaria and the wider region of Southeast Europe.

The entire 31-km (19-mile) section of the interconnector on Greek territory was audited for two days in early September with representatives of the Greek Ministry of Environment and Energy and ICGB’s management.

The audit is part of the procedure for granting operational permit for the pipeline’s section on the territory of the Hellenic Republic. The delegation inspected in detail the gas metering station near Komotini, one of the block valves, the tie-ins points with TAP and DESFA including the entire linear part of the pipeline in Greece.

“The entire procedure comprises of on-site inspections and a detailed review of a series of project documents,” Teodora Georgieva and George Satlas, ICGB’s executive officers, said. “This is done to ensure that the completed works meet all prerequisites for safe operation of the entire natural gas infrastructure. The feedback we are currently seeing from the members of this site visit is positive and we’re hopeful that this will result in the timely issuance of the required operational permit for Greece.”

The two highlighted both the national and international importance of IGB’s commercial launch that is expected for October 1st.

“We are looking at a pipeline that opens a new, secure gateway for diversified natural gas deliveries not only for the two host countries, but for the wider SEE region and with the option to transmit natural gas to Ukraine and Moldova as well,” the ICGB executive officers said. “All efforts remain focused on completing the remaining secondary activities under the EPC contract and the required administrative procedures in Greece and Bulgaria in order to achieve the set deadline.”

Act 15 Certification for Bulgaria

In addition, the Greece-Bulgaria interconnector has received Act 15 certification for the territory of Bulgaria.

Act 15 certifies that the facility is completed and technically sound, as the EPC contractor - the Greek company AVAX, hands it over as a completed site to the contracting entity - the independent gas transmission operator ICGB AD.

"This is the last step we have to take towards obtaining Act 16 in Bulgaria and the corresponding Permit for Use. We have provided the institutions with all the necessary documents, and we expect the administrative procedures to be completed by the end of next week, so that we can start commercial operation on October 1st as planned," the ICGB executive officers said.

To optimize the process of putting the pipeline into operation and issuing a Use Permit, ICGB sent in advance requests for preliminary opinions and/or necessary documents to 27 controlling authorities, municipal administrations, operating companies and others.

As a result, to date, positive positions have been received from all relevant parties. To further reduce the administrative deadlines, all the necessary documentation has been previously submitted to the Bulgarian Directorate for National Construction Control (DNCC) and has already been reviewed.

"We are awaiting the convening of a committee for Act 16, we have taken all the necessary steps for that to be possible," the ICGB executive officers said.

Georgieva and Satlas emphasized that in parallel, work continues for the necessary operational permit in Greece, so that before the end of September the facility will be licensed on Greek territory as well. The 72-hour tests, during which natural gas is transported at working pressure in the direction from Komotini to Stara Zagora, have already been performed. "There are no technical issues or setbacks, everything is ready for commercial operation," the two announced.

Given the importance of timely commissioning of the IGB pipeline and the start of the heating season, the remaining activities as part of the project are divided into phases, with today's signing of Act 15 between ICGB, the construction company, the construction and author's supervision marking the end of the first phase of these activities.

This phase contains all the elements that are of direct importance for the start of commercial operation of the gas pipeline. Secondary activities are identified in a separate stage that needs to be completed by the Greek company AVAX as part of their contractual obligations.

All secondary activities identified under the additional phase no not directly affect the operational readiness of the facility - e.g., asphalt laying, anti-erosion measures, spare optical cable. Work on all above-mentioned activities continues, and their final implementation will be inspected by both the contracting entity and the relevant institutions and will be the subject of a separate Act.

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