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In Bulgaria

General facts:
The demand for natural gas in Bulgaria is relatively low - only about 3,4 billion cubic meters (bcm) for 2008. Of these 0,211 bcm have been covered by indigenous production, while the rest of the quantities have been imported from the only supplier of natural gas to Bulgaria - the Russian Federation.

The use of natural gas accounts for about 14% of the primary energy consumption in Bulgaria. Generally, the natural gas consumption in the country is on the rise, as it is being used more and more in the residential sector, but also in the industry. Nevertheless, currently less than 2% of the households in Bulgaria are gasified, which is far bellow the average rates for the European Union, which stand between 27%-50%. Furthermore, only about 16% of the municipalities in the country have access to natural gas, compared to 27% to 80% for the rest of EU.

In Bulgaria natural gas is being stored at the Chiren underground storage facility, owned by "Bulgartransgaz" EAD. The storage has been constructed on the basis of an already exhausted gas field in the area. The storage facility is used to compensate for the seasonal irregularities of the natural gas consumption in the country, as well as to ensure the security of gas supplies in Bulgaria. The storage has a capacity of 1.35 bcm natural gas. Of them the available production capacity is 0,6 bcm, while the rest 0,75 bcm are used to maintain the facility operational.

Bulgaria has a well developed infrastructure for transit of natural gas. Through Bulgaria, natural gas is being transported to Turkey, Greece and Macedonia. In 2007 the transit of gas to these countries amounted to 17,19 bcm.

Participants in the Bulgarian natural gas market:
- "Bulgartransgaz" EAD - transportation, transit and storage of natural gas;
- "Bulgargaz" EAD - the public supplier of natural gas to the gas distribution companies in Bulgaria;
- State Energy and Water Regulatory Commission (SEWRC) - regulates all energy related activities such as pricing, licensing, etc.;
- Gas distribution companies - they deliver natural gas to the end users and construct the gas distribution networks in the territories for which they have obtained a license from SEWRC;
- Privileged clients - big industrial clients that are connected directly to the network of Bulgargaz and purchase big quantities of natural gas directly from the state company.
- End users - the rest of the customers, which can be either households or commercial customers (schools, hospitals, factories, etc.). They purchase natural gas from the gas distribution companies.

Trends in the development of the natural gas market in the country:
According to the forecasts, by 2010 the demand for natural gas in Bulgaria will reach 3,9 bcm. The greatest amount of the gas will be used to satisfy the needs of the industrial and the public sector, but also for power generation. The forecasts are that during 2010 - 2025 the demand for natural gas will rise on average by about 3,2% per year, reaching 6,3 bcm by the end of the period. This will accelerate the development of the gas-related infrastructure and will increase the consumption rate of natural gas in the country.

Bulgaria plays an active role in regional projects such as the one to connect the gas distribution networks of the country with Serbia. Upcoming projects include the construction of interconnections with the Romanian and the Greek gas networks.

At the same time, the country is part of trans-regional initiatives such as the gas pipelines "Nabucco" and "South Stream". The realization of these projects is important for Bulgaria as it will diversify the sources of natural gas, as well as the supply routes, which in turn will enhance the security of natural gas supplies to the national market.

Statistical data about the natural gas sector in Bulgaria and EU for 2008:
2008 Bulgaria ЕU-27
Production (billion cubic meters - bcm) 0,2 210
Consumption (bcm) 3,4 543,9
Import (bcm) 3,2 422,9
Natural gas share of the primary energy consumption (%) 16,6 24
Consumption of natural gas by sectors in %
2008 Residential Industry Energy Other
Bulgaria 1,60% 56,70% 28,80% 12,90%
EU-27 28,40% 25,00% 31,80% 14,80%