The Bulgarian Petroleum and Gas Association Proposed a Vision for the Development of Sustainable Mobility in the Transportation Sector

Maya Blagoeva, Executive Director of V-Gas, stated that the use of propane-butane as a transitional fuel is of crucial importance for achieving the goals of the energy transition set by EU legislation.

Gas fuels will continue to be an alternative based on their socially acceptable price. Currently, the most popular and rapidly developing are hybrid systems – mixing propane-butane with air or with green hydrogen, added Blagoeva. She commented that the future lies primarily in the production of bioLPG and reLPG – fuels that will be produced from renewable and waste materials. Such installations are already operating in the UK and the Netherlands.

On February 29, the Bulgarian Petroleum and Gas Association (BPGA) presented a vision for sustainable mobility in the transport sector during a press conference at the National Press Club of the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency (BTA). The association’s chairman, Svetoslav Benchev, stated that the transition in transportation must occur thoughtfully and at a good socio-economic cost. He emphasized that there is still no serious and in-depth development regarding the country’s strategy for the development of the transport sector through the prism of decarbonization and the new European requirements. Svetoslav Benchev outlined the fundamental principles of the vision, highlighting energy security as the top priority. This principle includes what fuels will be produced, how and where they will be produced, and how they can be delivered. The next priority is the diversification of energy product supply sources.

The chairman of BPGA noted that the transition to alternative fuels is crucial as it underpins the energy shift. He stressed the importance of energy efficiency in transportation, highlighting that the sector exhibits the highest energy intensity not only in Bulgaria but also in the European Union (EU). Understanding how decarbonization will occur in transportation, including the types of fuels to be used, is vital. Diversification entails incorporating new fuels alongside those currently available in the market.
According to Benchev, maintaining a balance between price, quality, and availability is paramount. Electrification of transportation is also crucial. BPGA estimates that if half of personal vehicles switch to electricity, it would mean a consumption of 2 gigawatts. However, this is not accounted for in Bulgaria’s energy plans. BPGA’s vision for the development of the transport sector includes temporal parameters divided into three periods: from 2024 to 2035, from 2035 to 2045, and beyond 2045. Benchev emphasized the need to preserve fuel production domestically, stating that the Bulgarian refinery will require modernization to produce new types of fuels and develop capabilities for recyclable fuels. This transformation would turn the refinery into more of a petrochemical complex to ensure the availability of these fuels domestically. Additionally, incentives should be provided to encourage biofuel producers to operate within the country, requiring legislative measures. Furthermore, sustainable aviation fuels must be considered, which are biofuels blended with conventional ones. These too should be produced domestically, necessitating legislative measures and assistance.
According to BPGA, another crucial aspect is the construction of the Alexandroupolis-Burgas oil pipeline to ensure oil supply within the country, bypassing the Bosporus and ensuring refinery security at all times. However, Benchev emphasized that this pipeline should also include a product pipeline for delivering finished products—initially petroleum products, followed by unconventional biofuels and other liquid fuels to be imported. Electrification is also highly important in transportation. However, the state will need to invest significantly in building the necessary infrastructure, as urged by BPGA. For this purpose, all administrative regimes hindering progress must be restricted. The state should also encourage the development of renewable energy capacities around these charging stations to truly green this mode of transportation.
There must be socially acceptable energy transition in transportation. “If we don’t have a transition period of at least 10 years, during which we can decarbonize transportation through propane-butane, liquefied natural gas, and HVO, which is a type of biofuel, prices in Bulgaria will indeed soar ominously,” emphasized Svetoslav Benchev. According to him, recycled fuels derived from waste should also be part of the energy mix for the next 10 years. Although these are fossil fuels, this transition cannot be made otherwise, explained the chairman of BPGA. He believes that an energy efficiency fund for transportation should be established. To achieve this energy transition, transitional fuels must be supported, commented Svetoslav Benchev. Electromobility must also be supported. It is crucial to have technological neutrality regarding the fuels offered, explained the chairman of BPGA.
Benchev clarified that this means no preference can be given to one type of mobility. All available technologies should be applied in an identical manner. BPGA expert Venelin Marinov stated that fuels are heavily affected by the energy transition and therefore, it must be considered how they will be decarbonized and how the transition in transportation will occur. He added that while electrification is possible for light vehicles, it is currently not feasible for heavy and maritime transport, as well as aviation. Nonetheless, there are solutions for decarbonizing air transport based on sustainable aviation fuels, explained the expert. Marinov added that electrification is not the only solution for decarbonization in transportation, and this has been recognized by European institutions, which no longer advocate for full electrification. It is acknowledged that by 2050, a substantial portion of aviation and marine fuels will be of mineral origin. EU legislation already includes targets for the use of low-carbon and carbon-neutral liquid and gaseous fuels.
The other expert from the Bulgarian Petroleum and Gas Association, Maya Blagoeva, emphasized that the most important thing is for this transition to occur at a socially acceptable price. She believes that propane-butane has many applications. In Bulgaria, it is significantly present and can be a very good alternative in the next 10 years, as there is built infrastructure. This will help the transition to be smoother at a better price. Autogas is popular in Bulgaria due to its low price. For this reason, it should be considered a primary factor in the transitional period

Българската петролна и газова асоциация предложи визия за развитие на устойчива мобилност в транспортния сектор