A Memorandum of Understanding for encouraging the cooperation between the gas transmission system operators of Bulgartransgaz EAD (Bulgaria), Transgaz S.A. (Romania), FGSZ Ltd. (Hungary), Eustream (Slovakia) and the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic – SOCAR was signed in the presence of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria Rumen Radev and the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev in Sofia.
The document was signed at an official ceremony in Sofia by the Minister of Energy of the Republic of Bulgaria Rossen Hristov, the Minister of Energy of Romania Virgil-Daniel Popescu, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary Péter Szijjártó, the Minister of Economy of the Slovak Republic Karel Hirman and the Minister of Energy of the Republic of Azerbaijan Parviz Shahbazov. The Memorandum is under the joint initiative Solidarity Ring (STRING), which aims to increase the security of natural gas supply for the European Union and the Central and South-Eastern Europe region.
Vladimir Malinov, Executive Director of Bulgartransgaz, reminded that Solidarity Ring was announced on 1 October last year on the initiative of the Bulgarian side. “The signing of the memorandum today confirms the feasibility of the initiative and will facilitate to immediately ensure additional natural gas quantities for Europe from Azerbaijan via a secure route”, he added. The STRING initiative provides a viable and efficient option to diversify and enhance the security of natural gas supply to Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe. This natural gas supply route of up to 5 bcm/year could be used as early as this autumn thanks to the well-developed gas infrastructure in the countries of the region.
“Cooperation and solidarity are at the heart of the Solidarity Ring initiative. Just when our partners have the greatest need of secure, reliable supplies and diversification, we all together have ensured that we can provide it,” emphasized the President of the Republic of Bulgaria Rumen Radev. “I am convinced that the Memorandum signed today strongly reaffirms our successful partnership and cooperation. It opens new opportunities and will result in increasing the capacity of the gas transmission network of our countries and our mutual connectivity,” he added.
“The global challenges we have been facing in the recent months require global efforts. If we want energy security, we need to work together in one direction. Today's event is an important step towards this and I am glad that Bulgaria was the initiator of this project. I would like to express my gratitude for the political support at the highest level - I would lie to say thank you to the Presidents Mr. Radev and Mr. Aliyev for providing us with a stable platform to carry out this process of signing today's memorandum, as well as to work on more strategic goals,” said the Bulgarian Energy Minister Rosen Hristov.
The EU Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson welcomed the initiative in a video address and underlined that the current Memorandum of Understanding between Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Azerbaijan is of crucial importance: it will provide a framework for further development of alternative routes for gas supply for the region, at the same time Azerbaijan has proven to be a reliable partner for the EU. “Supplies have proven crucial this winter, to ensure security of energy supplies. The Commission very much supports further efforts to provide alternative routes for bringing gas from the Caspian Sea to the Central and Eastern Europe,” she added.