EU member, has stepped up efforts to reduce reliance on Russian gas
Bulgaria and Qatar have signed a confidentiality deal paving the way for talks on LNG deliveries from the Arab country, state gas company Bulgargaz said on Friday, as Sofia seeks to cut dependence on Russian gas.
Qatar is the world's largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) producer.
Bulgargaz chief executive Dimitar Gogov told Reuters: "There is a confidentiality agreement signed so that talks can start."
He added: "These talks will define what the quantity will be and when the deliveries will start."
Bulgaria, the poorest European Union member, has stepped up efforts to reduce its almost complete reliance on Russian gas by diversifying routes and supplies after a dispute between Russia and Ukraine in 2009 left it, and much of the region, without gas for weeks in freezing temperatures.
A lack of separate gas links with neighbours and the inability to reverse gas flows in pipelines that bring Russian gas to Greece and Turkey, worsened the crisis for the Balkan country.
Since then, Sofia has announced plans to link its gas network with those of Greece, Romania, Serbia and Turkey and has signed a memorandum of understanding for gas deliveries from Azerbaijan.
Under a project between Azeri state oil company Socar and Bulgaria's Bulgartransgaz, Azeri gas would be transported via a pipeline to Georgia to be compressed and shipped by tankers to Bulgaria's Black Sea port of Varna.
Last week, Russia and Bulgaria signed accords to push ahead with the South Stream natural gas pipeline to deliver gas to central and south Europe, bypassing Ukraine, which is expected to cement Moscow's hold on European energy supplies.
Sofia is also supporting the EU-backed Nabucco pipeline which is planned to run through its territory and has expressed concerns over delays in its development.(Reuters)