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Serbia and Bulgaria to Build Gas Pipeline, Diversify Supply

Oct. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Serbia and Bulgaria will build natural gas pipeline, linking networks and improving energy security for both countries that now have single supply routes.

Construction of the 180-kilometer (112 mile) pipe is to begin next year and take 18 months to complete, at an estimated cost of 100 million euros ($129 million) to 120 million euros, Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic told reporters in Belgrade today. The European Union-supported, two-way pipeline will have annual capacity of 2 billion cubic meters and the EU will support Serbia’s 60-kilometer section with a 10 million-euro donation, he said.

“We’ll sign a bilateral agreement with Bulgaria by the end of next month, to be able to start construction next year,” Dacic told reporters after meeting with Fabrizio Barbaso, the European Commission’s deputy director general for energy.

The pipe will stretch from Nis, Serbia’s biggest southern city, to Dupnitsa south of the Bulgarian capital Sofia, Dacic said. Serbia’s only supply route comes from neighboring Hungary and the new pipe will enable it to import gas via Bulgaria, Dacic said.

“Bulgaria also has just one supply route at present but it will be able to draw quantities” from Serbia, he said. Bulgaria currently imports Russian gas through neighboring Romania.

“The interconnector project is of strategic importance,” Barbaso said. “It’s urgent, the work has to begin next year” after no progress has been made since a preliminary agreement on the link in 2010, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Misha Savic in Belgrade at msavic2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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