As energy plays a critical role in the development and sustainability of any economy, the continuing development of the Balkan energy network as an energy supplier as well as a hub for the wider continental region concurrently with the region’s integration into Europe’s energy markets will provide a diversification of supply sources, supply routes and energy mixes in order to increase Balkan energy security. Implicit in this reform process is the adoption of EU rules on competition and third party access to energy infrastructure to increase competition and make the energy sector more attractive for foreign investment.

Use of natural gas is a dominant trend; geo-political tensions with one of Europe’s long time, principal gas suppliers have resulted in plans to diversify continental gas sources to increase energy security; regional gas supply networks are under development in order to bring gas to Europe from the Caspian Basin, Central Asia, the Middle East, and the Eastern Mediterranean. 

Nevertheless, oil, renewable and hydrogen projects are also key factors in the region, which are helping many countries excel in increasing energy security for decades to come. The following are some of the current exploration, production and development projects throughout the region, as well as some planned/proposed projects for the next few years.

Oil and gas projects

When it comes to oil and gas, the Balkans region has 6 main countries providing 16 exploration, production and development projects, these being: Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Croatia, Montenegro and Albania.

Exploration projects include the Midia Pelican project in Romania; XVIII Istria and the 1-21 Han Asparuh offshore projects in Bulgaria; Block 2, the Ionian Block and the Crete offshore projects in Greece; and the Adriatic Sea offshore project in Montenegro.

Oil and gas production projects include the Midia Gas development project in Romania; the Prinos Concession in Greece; the Ika B-1R-DIR and Izabela fields projects in Croatia; and the Patos-Marinza oilfield and Kuçova oil field projects in Albania.

Finally, development projects in the Balkans include the Neptune Deep field and the Caragele onshore projects in Romania; and the Katakolo project in Greece.

LNG and gas infrastructure projects

When it comes to LNG and gas infrastructure, the Balkans region has 9 main countries providing 12 operational, under construction and planned/proposed projects, these being: Greece, Serbia, Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Kosovo.

Operational projects include the Revithoussa LNG Terminal in Greece, and the Interconnector GreeceBulgaria projects in both Greece and Bulgaria; the Balkan Stream between Serbia and Bulgaria; the Trans Adriatic Pipeline in Greece, Albania and Italy; and the LNG Krk Terminal project in Croatia.

The only project currently being constructed is the Alexandroupolis LNG terminal in Greece.

Finally, the planned/proposed projects include the Ionian Adriatic Pipeline between Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Albania; the Vlora LNG terminal project in Albania; the Thessaloniki FSRU project in Greece; the Greece-North Macedonia gas interconnector project in Greece, North Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo and Serbia; the Serbia-Bulgaria gas interconnector project between Serbia and Bulgaria; and the Interconnector Croatia-Serbia between Croatia and Serbia.

Renewable energy projects

In regards to renewable energy, the Balkans region has 8 main countries providing 31 operational, under construction and planned/proposed solar, wind and hydroelectric projects, these being: Greece, Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia.

Operational projects include the Kozani Solar Park, the Kafireas Wind Farm and the Mikronoros Wind Farm in Greece; the Karadzhalovo Solar Park and the Čibuk 1 Wind Farm in Bulgaria; the Senj Wind Farm in Croatia; the Krnovo Wind Farm in Montenegro; and the Fangut HPP, Komani HPP and Devoll River Cascade (Banja and Moglice HPP) in Albania.

Various renewable energy projects are currently being constructed in the Balkans, including the Agrosolar Kula Solar Parks and the Krivaca Wind Farm in Serbia; the Karavasta Solar Park and the Spitalle Solar Park in Albania; the Karadzhalovo Solar Park in Bulgaria; two wind farms in the Zadar region and the Opor and Boraja Wind Farms in Croatia; and the Askio III 1 Wind Farm and more than 700 MW installed capacity wind farms in Greece.

Finally, planned/proposed projects include the Virje and Sisak Solar Parks and the Korlat Solar Park in Croatia; 1GW Solar Parks in Serbia; 1 GW Solar Parks in Romania; the Briska Gora PV Solar Park, the Brajici Wind Power Plant and the Komarnica HPP in Montenegro; the Stipion Solar Park in North Macedonia; the Skavica HPP in Albania; and the Čebren hydropower plant in both Serbia and North Macedonia.

Hydrogen projects

With the global boom in hydrogen, the Balkans region has 5 planned/proposed projects in 4 countries, these being: Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia and Croatia.

Planned/proposed hydrogen projects include the White Dragon and Bluesky300 projects in Greece; an industrial zone that will use clean hydrogen produced with solar power in Bulgaria; the Agrosolar Project – Green Hydrogen in Serbia; and the adoption of a 2050 hydrogen strategy in Croatia.

Balkans’ great potential on track for massive growth

Recoverable oil reserves in the Balkans region are led by Romania with 600 million barrels, followed by Albania with 120 million barrels, Serbia with 80 million barrels, and Croatia with 70 million barrels. Parallel to this, recoverable gas reserves are led by Romania with 726 billion cubic metres, followed by Greece with 600 billion cubic metres, and Bulgaria with 500 billion cubic metres.

Also, renewables installed capacity in 2021 was led by Romania with 20,696 MW, followed by Bulgaria with 12,668 MW, Greece with 4,500 MW, Croatia with 2,506 MW, Bosnia and Herzegovina with 2,372 MW, and Albania with 1,898 MW.

Furthermore, being strategically placed where Asian, African, and European paths are crossed, the Balkans region is set to be the Europe strategic transportation corridor.

Regional highlights

  • Romanian senators passed a bill the government hopes will encourage gas extraction in the Black Sea;
  • Greece-Bulgaria pipeline starts operations to boost non-Russian gas flows;
  • Shell is on the verge of discovering major gas and oil reserves in Albania;
  • Albania is working to diversify its energy sources, including by introducing gas and wind power, with the former set to cost up to €4 billion to implement;
  • Croatia is set to invest €180 million in developing the ZlobinBosiljevo gas pipeline and increasing capacity of the LNG terminal in Krk;
  • Greece aims to attract about €30 billion in European funds and private investments to upgrade its electricity grid;
  • Private investors are developing renewable energy power plants with a total capacity of around 14 GW to 15 GW in Serbia;
  • Kosovo aims to boost the share of renewables in electricity consumption to at least 35% by 2031, according to the government’s draft energy strategy.

Balkans Energy Summit 2023

IN-VR is pleased to announce the eighth edition of the Balkans Energy Summit . IN-VR’s trademark Energy meeting point for the Balkans and the Black Sea is back and ready to celebrate its 10 years of success, having brought together more than 3,500 senior executives interested in the regions’ energy landscape.

All Balkan Ministries, International Oil Companies (IOCs), energy producers and project developers will meet at the the eighth edition of the Balkans Energy Summit in Athens to discuss the region’s and Europe’s energy security and ultimately its independence through financing gas and renewable projects.

Key players behind the Balkan’s energy developments are joining and sharing their expertise and their plans on how to attract local, regional, and international investment in order to launch several indispensable energy projects.

About the Author: Felipe Gaitán Michelsen