Bulgaria and fossil gas
Nuclear and hydro play a significant role in Bulgaria's electricity generation. As of 2020, the two sources combined made up almost 50 percent of the energy generated in Bulgaria. However, in terms of Total Energy Supply (TES), Bulgaria remains heavily reliant of fossil fuels. The National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) calls for increasing the the share of renewable energy in the fuel mix and the integration of hydrogen into its energy and mobility systems.
Bulgaria was not a significant producer of fossil gas in 2020, nor did it have large reserves. It imports much of its gas supply from Russia. Shale gas was proposed as an energy source in the late 2000s and early 2010s, but fracking was banned in Bulgaria in 2012.
As of 2019, Bulgaria had seen a reduction in total GHG emissions since 1990 of 44 percent. According to the country's NECP, this is due to a reduction in energy-intensive enterprises, an increase of the aforementioned use of hydro and nuclear energy, increased efficiencies in housing, a shift from coal to fossil gas and "structural changes in industry." However, as of 2020 was still the most GHG intensive economy in the European Union -- a fact credited to Bulgaria's continued reliance on coal. Bulgaria, as the poorest country in the EU, does not have the same emissions reduction targets as its wealthier counterparts.
Fuel mix (fossil fuels vs renewables)
In 2019, Bulgaria derived about 64% of its total energy supply (TES) from fossil fuels (27.15% from coal, 23.91% from oil, and 13.00% from fossil gas). 10.02% of the TES came from biofuels and waste, 1.59% from wind and solar, and 1.34% from hydro.
Bulgaria's National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) for 2021-2030 set a goal of increasing shares of renewables from a 2020 level of 21.4% to a 27.9% share of GFEC by 2030.
Greenhouse gas emissions targets
As of 2020, Bulgaria's per capita CO2 emissions from fuel combustion (4.8 tCO2) were 19th in Europe
In 2019, Bulgaria produced 56.69 million tons of GHG emissions -- about 71% of which came from the energy sector.
Bulgaria set a 2030 target for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of -0% compared to 2005, as set in the Effort Sharing Regulation. While wealthier countries in the European Union have higher reduction targets, poorer ones, such as Bulgaria are required simply not to increase emissions.
Government energy agencies & other key players
National energy agencies
Elektroenergien Sistemen Operator (ESO) holds a certification for transmission of electric power. It is the independent transmission system operator of the Republic of Bulgaria. ESO manages 15 thousand km of power lines and 297 electrical substations. ESO is a subsidiary of Bulgarian Energy Holding.
Bulgargaz EAD is the public supplier of natural gas. As of 2022, Bulgargaz "owns the only license for the activity of ‘public supply of natural gas on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria’ for a period of 35 years."
Leading energy companies
Bulgarian Energy Holding EAD (BEH) is a state-owned holding company comprised of electricity generation, supply and transmission, natural gas transmission, supply and storage, and coal mining companies. Its companies have 6.2 GW of power generation capacity, and its gas transmission network has a technical capacity of 7.4 bcm/y. National Electric Company EAD is one of BEH's subsidiaries.
As of 2021, Bulgaria's installed capacity was about 12.7 GW, with 600 MW (.05%) coming from gas-fired power plants. 4.5 GW comes from coal, 3.2 GW from hydro, 2 GW from nuclear, 1.1 GW from solar, and 700 MW from wind.
The countries national energy plan proposes building a new gas-fired power plant as well as 1.7 GW of renewables capacity.
The installed generation capacities by generation type from 2018-2020 can be seen below:
|Generation Type||Installed Capacity (MW)||Share (%)||Installed Capacity (MW)||Share (%)||Installed Capacity (MW)||Share (%)|
In 2016, Bulgaria's installed capacity totaled 10.75 GW, ranking it 57th in the world. 39% of that capacity came from fossil fuels, 20% from nuclear, 23% from hydro, and 19% from other renewable sources.
Bulgaria generated 40.7 TWh of electricity in 2020, sourced 5.60% from fossil gas. The breakdown of Bulgaria's electricity generation by source, according to the IEA, was as shown below in 2020.
With 42.29 TWh of electricity produced, Bulgaria ranked 57th in the world in 2016.
With 2.15 TWh of electricity from fossil gas, Bulgaria ranked 19th in Europe in 2019.
In 2019, Bulgaria produced 44.29Twh of electricity.
Bulgaria's gross domestic electricity consumption was 38.4 TWh in 2019, a decrease of 1.1% compared to 2018.
Bulgaria consumed 32.34 TWh of electricity in 2016, 60th in the world.
Fossil Gas Production, Consumption, Sources and Projects in Bulgaria
In 2019, Bulgaria's 0.03 Mtoe of fossil gas represented approximately zero percent of the nation's 11.92 Mtoe of energy produced.
Bulgaria's 79.28 million cubic meters of fossil gas production in 2017 made it the 83rd largest producer in the world.
The domestic production of fossil gas in Bulgaria between 2009 and 2019 is shown below (in Mtoe):
Gas exploration and production in Bulgaria occurs mostly in the northern part of the country and the Black Sea. According to Wood Mackenzie, the two key onshore producing regions in Bulgaria are the Moesian platform and the Varna sub-basin.
According to a 2014 paper, "Bulgaria’s conventional oil and gas production used to be significant before the 1990s but has declined significantly since then."
At the start of 2018, Bulgaria held 5.663 billion cubic meters of proven fossil gas reserves, ranking 88th in the world
According to KPMG, Bulgaria has prospects for new discoveries located offshore, which have triggered the interest of development companies. Additionally, "Bulgaria seems to have relatively large shale gas reserves" but fracking has been banned in the country since 2012.
In 2019, Bulgaria consumed 1.14 Mtoe of fossil gas, ranking it 16th in Europe.
In 2017, Bulgaria consumed 3.313 billion cubic meters of fossil gas, the 70th most in the world.
Imports & exports
Bulgaria's fossil gas imports and exports from 2006-2019 are shown below (in Million Tonnes of Oil Equivalent (Mtoe)):
Bulgaria imported 2.46 Mtoe of fossil gas in 2019, ranking 14 in the European Union.
Bulgaria exported 0.01 Mtoe of fossil gas in 2019, ranking 14 in the European Union.
Bulgaria imported 3.256 billion cubic meters of fossil gas in 2017, ranking 44th in the world.
Bulgaria exported 31.15 million cubic meters of fossil gas in 2017, ranking 52th in the world.
Under a long-term contract with Russia (as of 2021, valid through 2022), over 95 percent of Bulgaria's natural gas imports are delivered through a pipeline crossing Ukraine, Moldova and Romania.
With 1,178 km of pipeline projects in development, Bulgaria ranked 22nd in the world in terms of planned expansion by length in 2021. With 139,179 BOE/d of pipeline projects in development, Bulgaria ranked 31st in the world in terms of planned expansion by capacity in 2020.
The estimated total cost of new gas transport infrastructure (pipelines and LNG terminals) was 4,375 million euros in 2021.
As of August 2021, the main domestic gas transport pipeline projects in development were:
|Pipeline name||Status as of August 2021||Expected Start Year||Length (KM)||FID Status|
|Gorni Bogrov–Novi Iskar Pipeline Expansion||Construction||2022||0.00||FID|
|Bulgaria National Gas Transmission Network Expansion||Construction||2022||0.00||FID|
|Beglej-Dermantsi-Batultsi-Kalugerovo Pipeline Replacement||Proposed||2024||58.00||FID|
|Razlog - Bansko Gas Pipeline||Proposed||2023||37.00||Pre-FID|
|Panagiurishte-Pirdop Gas Pipeline||Construction||2022||62.00||FID|
|AGRS Graf Ignatievo to Hisarya–Banya–Karlovo-Sopot Gas Pipeline||Proposed||--||54.00||Pre-FID|
|Varna-Oryahovo Gas Pipeline||Proposed||2022||844.00||Pre-FID|
As of August 2021, the main gas international pipeline transport projects in development were:
|Pipeline name||Countries||Status as of August 2021||Expected Start Year||Length (KM)||FID Status|
|Gas Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB)||Greece, Bulgaria||Construction||2022||184.00||FID|
|Eastring Pipeline||Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey||Proposed||2025||1,030-1,241 (route TBD)||Pre-FID|
|Bulgaria-Serbia Interconnector Gas Pipeline||Bulgaria, Serbia||Proposed||2022||170.00||Pre-FID|
|Macedonia-Bulgaria Interconnector Gas Pipeline||North Macedonia, Bulgaria||Proposed||--||68.00 (est.)||Pre-FID|
Bulgarian pipelines in-development, as of 2021 according to GFIT, can be seen on the map below:
Bulgaria's NECP calls for the integration of hydrogen into its energy and mobility systems gradually by 2030. Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking commissioned a study on the Role of Hydrogen in the National Energy and Climate Plans for Bulgaria. The study suggests that between 0.6 and 1.1 GW of dedicated renewable electricity capacity would be installed to produce green hydrogen via electrolysis. That energy then would be predominantly used in the transport and industry sectors. To reach its renewable hydrogen target, Bulgaria expects total investments of around 3,45 million EUR.
The Energy and Climate Integrated Plan of the Republic of Bulgaria for the period of 2021 – 2030 highlights significant potential for the development of hydrogen projects in transport and power generation.
Suspensions of Oil and Gas Exploration in Bulgaria
Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance
In 2012, following "big street protests by environmentalists" Bulgarian parliament voted to ban exploratory drilling for shale gas. This "protest-induced total ban" went into effect immediately and indefinitely. It forced companies that currently held license to prove no fracking was involved in their plans, further exploration tenders were cancelled. The ban was still in effect in 2017 and as of 2021, no shale gas companies remain in the country.
Socio-Economic Impact of the Fossil Gas Industry
According to estimates cited by the European Commission, in 2019 there were three enterprises in the "Extraction of Crude Petroleum & Natural Gas" sector, eight in "Support Activities for Petroleum & Natural Gas Extraction" and 1,689 in "Electricity, Gas, Steam & Air Conditioning Supply." 34 people were employed in support activities for oil and gas extraction. 18 people were employed in the electricity, gas, steam, and air conditioning supply sector.
Opposition to Fossil Infrastructure
In 2020, thousands took to the streets in a protest to "stop the amendments to the Biodiversity Act", reportedly due to potential harm to protected zones.
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