28 Oct 2015
Bulgaria's government is to issue guarantees worth BGN 215 M (EUR 109 M) for the Interconnector Greece-Bulgarai (IGB) project in 2016, the cabinet's press office has said.
The decision, announced at a Wednesday cabinet meeting, has turned IGB into the single state-guaranteed investment project for which the government will secure funding by taking out more loans.
As of 2015, government guarantees earmarked for the project are BGN 157. The increase is explained with the need to optimize the project's financial structure to improve economic competitiveness.
IGB was approved for funding both this and last year, but the start of construction suffered delays due to technical issues.
Sofia and Athens had voiced intentions to secure its start this summer, but the political situation in Greece, with the debt crisis and early elections, temporarily took it off the agenda.
The government on Wednesday said it had included it in the 2016 budget draft "considering its strategic importance for gaining access to alternative sources of gas supplies and supply crisis prevention, respectively [crisis prevention] of the Bulgarian economy."
IGB has also been encouraged by Washington, with US Secretary of State John Kerry pledging in January to assist in securing EU funding for the interconnector.
Earlier in October, three-way talks took place in Athens with the energy ministers of Bulgaria and Greece and US special energy envoy Amos Hochstein.