The European Commission has approved, in accordance with EU state aid rules, a Bulgarian measure in the amount of 16 million euros to support the expansion of the Bulgartransgaz gas storage facility in Chiren.

Bulgartransgaz will invest around 285 million euros to expand the capacity of the gas storage facility in Chiren, which is the only natural gas storage facility in Bulgaria. Storage capacity is expected to grow from 550 million to 1 billion cubic meters. The capacity to withdraw and supply natural gas to the network will also be increased.

Bulgaria notified the Commission of its plans to support the investment of Bulgartransgaz with a 9-year public guarantee on the loan to finance the measure in the amount of 16 million euros. The aim is to ensure security of gas supply, to increase competition in the gas market, including through greater integration of the facility to the grid, and to promote gas trade in the region.

The expansion of the Chiren gas storage facility is a Project of General Interest included in the fifth list of PGIs. The PGIs aim to complete the European internal energy market to help the EU achieve its energy and climate goals.

The Commission assessed the scheme under Article 107(3)(c) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which allows Member States to support the development of certain economic activities under certain conditions, and the Climate, Environment and Energy State Aid Guidelines (CEEAG).

The Commission found that the Bulgarian scheme was necessary and appropriate to facilitate Bulgartransgaz’s investment in its natural gas storage facility. The Commission also concluded that the scheme is proportionate as the aid will be limited to the minimum necessary to guarantee the investment in the facility and will not have undue negative effects on EU competition and trade. On this basis, the Commission approved the measure under EU state aid rules.

The non-confidential version of the decision will be submitted under № SA.106120 in the State Aid Register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.