Petkov and Aliyev in Baku.БГНЕС

Petkov and Aliyev in Baku.БГНЕС

Petkov arrived in Baku for several hours to get Aliyev's consent to increase the volume of gas to Bulgaria, after the technical issue of the ability to receive Azerbaijani gas in the amount of 1 billion cubic meters a year was resolved.

"The gas crisis is a fact throughout Europe. Therefore, I intend to travel to Azerbaijan in the coming days, where I will have a meeting with President Aliyev, to continue discussing the issue of increasing gas supplies. We are one of the three EU countries that actually have access to this cheap and safe gas resource," Petkov said on the eve of the visit.

The blue fuel will be delivered through the Greek temporary delivery point Nea Mesimvria until the gas connection via the Greece-Bulgaria Interconnector (IGB) is completed, which is expected to take place in the autumn. IGB is connected to the Trans Adriatic Gas Pipeline (TAP) originating in Azerbaijan. According to DW, Baku has been supplying Azerbaijani gas to Europe - Italy, Greece and Bulgaria, since December 31, 2020 through the TAP gas pipeline. However, due to the  absence of an interconnector, the volumes intended for Bulgaria were four times less than planned.

So far, Bulgaria has received over 300 million cubic meters of gas, out of 3 billion cubic meters consumed by it. Last year, 78% of Bulgaria's needs were covered by Russia's Gazprom, but since May, Russia has cut off supplies due to the Petkov government's refusal to pay in rubles, as Putin insisted.

Petkov thus joined the EU sanctions against Russia  because of its invasion  to Ukraine. It cost  Bulgaria a government crisis. On June 23, the parliamentary opposition initiated a vote of no confidence in the government in connection with the gas crisis and high inflation, having achieved its resignation. Petkov accused the opposition and Russian Ambassador to Bulgaria Eleonora Mitrofanova of inspiring a political crisis in the country. Russia denied the accusations.

“Earlier, we did not have enough pipelines, now we do not have enough gas, and what we have will be supplied at an unknown price. And all this puts, first of all, business in an extremely complicated situation. We have every reason, both as citizens and as a state, to be extremely worried, but what is more important is what the rulers will do with the country," said Slavcho Neikov, an analyst at the Energy Management Institute in Sofia.

On the result of Petkov's visit, the Prime Minister's press service stated that "in Baku, retired Prime Minister Kirill Petkov discussed with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev the possibility of supplying additional volumes of Azerbaijani gas to Bulgaria in excess of those already determined in connection with the new Greece-Bulgaria interconnector. The details of possible new deliveries will be discussed by the energy ministers of the two countries. The strategic partnership between Bulgaria and Azerbaijan will continue to develop actively with an emphasis on expanding energy and transport relations.”

In this situation, an increase in Azerbaijani gas supplies can reduce the political climate in Sofia, and there is a reason for that. Azerbaijan has pledged to supply 1 billion gas per year for 25 years, which is one third of Bulgaria's demand. Now we can talk about the revision of the volume of deliveries upwards. A big political bonus for Petkov is the low price of Azerbaijani gas, which will significantly affect the mood of the voter. Gas from the “Shah Deniz” field in the Caspian Sea, which is already supplied to the Balkans, is four times cheaper than Russian gas.

In May, Petkov paid a visit to the United States, where he received support for the solidarity shown in the EU towards Russia.

"Vice President Kamala Harris congratulated Bulgaria for taking decisive action to protect its energy sovereignty," Petkov's press office said. Bulgaria received a strategic promise to create offshore supplies of liquefied American gas up to 10 billion cubic meters a year. But this is a promising project that will require implementation within a few years.

Not only Petkov  received political bonuses from his visit to  Azerbaijan, but also  President Aliyev, who more than once played the role of a "fireman" in difficult periods for the leaders of a number of states. One can recall the outstretched hand of the EU, Ukraine, Turkey, Georgia, Belarus, Russia, etc.

Petkov's gas visit should be a major help in returning a vote of confidence and strengthening his position, as he manages to get Bulgaria out of Russia's sanctions and gain the support of allies. According to the Bulgarian constitution, the Petkov-led government will continue to function until a new or transitional cabinet is formed. If none of the parties or party coalitions eligible to form a government succeed in forming a cabinet, the president will dissolve the National Assembly and form an interim cabinet, after which new parliamentary elections will be held.

In the gas war that provoked the political crisis in Bulgaria, Petkov emerged victorious. Strengthening  his position will allow expanding cooperation between Bulgaria and Azerbaijan in the field of the transport corridor of the Black Sea Basin, as well as in other areas.

"In the near future, Bulgaria will also open an honorary consulate in Azerbaijan. It is time for the long-standing friendship between our two countries to become a real bridge for strategic economic projects and a more significant diversification of energy," Petkov wrote on Facebook after meeting with the President of Azerbaijan.

This would be a response to Aliyev's quote: “Issues of energy security are the top priority on the global agenda today. I am glad that we have established cooperation with Bulgaria in the energy sector, and you are receiving gas through the Southern Gas Corridor pipeline.”

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