Energy security, affordable energy prices, diversification of energy sources and routes, are issues of the highest priority for our countries, as they are main pillars for economic development.
Considerable progress has been achieved during the recent years as a result of our joint efforts and intensified bilateral cooperation in the energy sector. In this context, we, the Ministers of Energy intend to update the existing Memorandum of Understanding for energy cooperation furthering the perspectives of our bilateral relations in the field of energy.
We, the Ministers of Energy, reaffirm our commitment to promote sustainable energy supplies at competitive prices, based on the EU's energy strategy through the realization of Projects of European Common Interest (PCI's) reinforcing interconnectivity in our region.
As a major step and a sign of political will in this direction, we recognize the signed, in Dubrovnik, on 10 July 2015, Memorandum of Understanding on a joint approach to address the natural gas diversification and security of supply challenges, as part of the Central and South-Eastern European Gas Connectivity (CESEC) initiative, as well as the adopted Action plan with priority projects for the regional gas security.
We reaffirm our commitment for the development of the overall vertical gas corridor project connecting Greece, Bulgaria and Romania, with a view to ensuring uninterrupted supplies and bidirectional flows, furthering the EU's Priority Corridor "North South" ("NSI East Gas") and "Southern Corridor" and overcoming remaining missing links, necessary for the completion of an interconnected internal market with EU financial support. We believe that a vertical corridor is an inclusive project, open also to participation from other countries of South East and Central Europe, which would be willing to be interconnected to their immediate neighbors.
The IGB (Greece-Bulgaria Interconnector), an essential part of a vertical corridor, constitutes a priority project of our countries and of the European Union's energy security strategy. We express our commitment to its swift implementation according to the agreed time schedule. A positive step towards this direction is the commitment undertaken by the promoting companies for the Final Investment Decision for the project in Sofia, on 10/12/2015. We are looking forward to the successful completion of the market test, confirming commercial interest through the booked capacity for the pipeline.
We express our support for the plan of realization of LNG terminal (Floating Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU) in Northern Greece, also an EU Project of Common Interest (PCI). The LNG terminal (FSRU) will constitute an energy gate facilitating additional diversified natural gas supplies for the regional market of Southeast Europe, as a market-driven project.
We welcome the signing of the Interconnection Agreement between DESFA SA and the Bulgarian Gas Operator Bulgartransgaz EAD (Sidirokastro, 24/6/2016), which will allow market players to transport gas - including from liquefied natural gas sources - between our two countries, starting 1 July 2016. Through the Interconnection Agreement, free bi-directional gas flow is being established at the common Interconnection Point, promoting competition, bilateral trade, common prosperity and energy security in the Southeast region.
Our countries and the whole wider region can benefit from all interrelated projects, such as the existing Revithoussa LNG Terminal, now being upgraded, the TAP pipeline, now entering in its implementation phase, the IGB and the development of the LNG terminal in Northern Greece, the projects for modernization of the existing transit gas network and the national transmission network of the Republic of Bulgaria, the capacity increase of Chiren UGS, the gas interconnectors Bulgaria - Romania (IBR) and Bulgaria - Serbia (IBS), all of them projects of common EU interest.
Acknowledging that a fully operational internal electricity market through the smooth functioning of cross-border exchanges is necessary for the intensification of our cooperation in electricity trade, we are welcoming the progress made concerning the implementation of a new 400 kv Interconnection Power Line between Maritsa East 1 (BG) and Nea Santa which is also a PCI project.
All the above mentioned projects of bilateral, regional and EU interest shall definitely stimulate the overall economic development of the regions where they are being implemented to the benefit of energy security and mutual interest of the citizens in both our countries.
This declaration reflects the efforts of the Governments of both our countries for the enhancement of strategic cooperation in the energy sector, in accordance with their national energy strategies and the common energy policy of the EU.