SOFIA, June 5 (Reuters) - Bulgaria’s state gas firm Bulgartransgaz is seeking up to 400 million euros ($453 million) to finance an extension of the TurkStream gas pipeline and other gas projects in the Balkan country, it said on Friday.
Bulgartransgaz has to make advance payments to Saudi-led group Arkad, which it has contracted to build the 474 km pipeline extension dubbed Balkan Stream for 1.1 billion euros, and to a Bulgarian-led group that will install two compressor stations for the gas link.
It said funds were also needed to finance the building of a gas link with neighbouring Serbia, as well as the expansion of a gas storage facility in Bulgaria.
Banks interested in providing loans with a six year maturity, including a one year grace period, and an interest of up to 3.9%, should file bids by the end of the month, Bulgartransgaz said.
Bulgaria still meets over 80% of its gas needs with Russian gas deliveries.
“The aim is to secure financial resource for the investment programme of the company, aimed at diversifying gas sources, increasing security of supplies and establishing the country as a regional gas hub,” Bulgartransgaz said in a statement.
Last October, the company raised 200 million euros in short-term loans with four banks to finance the Balkan Stream pipeline.
Balkan Stream, which will carry mainly Russian gas from Bulgaria’s southern border with Turkey to its western frontier with Serbia - providing a link to the Russia-backed TurkStream twin pipeline to Serbia and Hungary - is expected to become operational by the end of the year.
$1 = 0.8834 euros Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Mark Potter