Four ex-communist countries have signed a declaration of support for the construction of a gas pipeline across all four states that will ease dependence on energy coming from Russia.

Romania has decided to back a new gas pipeline designed to link Central and Southeast Europe on the grounds that improving the region’s energy supply infrastructure will increase regional energy security.

Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia have signed a joint declaration of support for the construction of the new 1274-km pipeline running across all four countries.

All four countries are looking to reduce their dependence on Russian energy, mainly by diversifying gas supply routes.

The new pipeline is to be called Eastring, according to media reports. It is designed to have a capacity of 20 billion cubic metres a year at the first stage and 40 bcm/y at the final stage.

Under the proposal, Eastring will transport gas from the Slovak-Ukrainian border to the Bulgarian-Turkish border. It may also connect up to a potential gas hub in Turkey, enabling reverse-flow supplies from the Caspian basin.

The optimistic target date for building the first stage of the pipeline is 2018.

In a related development, Bulgaria plans to complete the construction of a gas interconnector with neighbouring Romania by the end of 2015.

A tender procedure for construction works on the underwater section of the gas interconnector is under way and a contractor is expected to be chosen within two weeks.

The entire gas link, estimated to cost 24 million euro, will have a maximum design capacity of 1.5 billion cubic metres of gas a year.

Romania produces about 11 billion cubic metres of gas a year, covering about 75 per cent of its annual needs. It imports the rest from Russia.

Bulgaria imports about 90 per cent of the natural gas it needs from Russia through a pipeline crossing Ukraine, Moldova and Romania.

The conflict in Ukraine with Moscow-backed pro-Russian seperatists has highlighted the risk of depending on connections running through the country.

Source: Turkish Weekly