А section of Bulgartransgaz's natural gas transit pipeline to Serbia, Hungary and Romania ruptured early on Monday for undisclosed reasons, Capital weekly writes. The accident occurred in the area of Vetrino, near Provadia, compromising the entire gas transit in north and westwards directions. The transmission to Romania has now been restored, but supply to Serbia and Hungary remains blocked, Bulgartransgaz said.
This means that the newly built section of the TurkStream gas pipeline through Bulgaria, which cost over 2.5 billion BGN (over 1.3 billion euro), is currently unusable. The rupture did not compromise sections of the newly constructed gas pipeline, but affected pipes in part of the old Trans-Balkan pipeline constructed in the late 1980s. They are used as a link between the new section built last year from the Turkish border and the section from Provadia to Kireevo at the Serbian end of the pipe.
Vladimir Malinov, CEO of Bulgartransgaz, told Capital weekly that the accident was likely caused by material fatigue. The section was last inspected in 2016 and such inspections ought to be carried out at least once every 10 years. The gas operator's teams are expected to establish what exactly happened by the end of Monday, the company CEO explained.
What does the accident mean for gas transit?
The ruptured pipeline will have no effect on supply to the Bulgarian gas market, as this is in fact a transit pipeline part of the TurkStream route via Bulgaria, which only serves to transport Russian gas from Turkey to Serbia and Hungary. This means that the latter two countries are most affected, especially Serbia, which has no alternative supply options after the suspension of Russian gas transit via Ukraine and Romania.
The issue with Serbia's supply could have been overcome if Bulgaria had completed the long-postponed gas link with Serbia. Transit could have been diverted through it temporarily, so that there would have been no disruption to supplies to Bulgaria's Western neighbour.
"This will not affect Bulgartransgaz's expected revenues from transit fees, as this is a force majeure event," Mr Malinov told Capital Weekly. However, there will certainly be additional incurred costs for the restoration of the damaged pipe.