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Energy security is of critical importance to Bulgaria. The biggest identified threat to Bulgarian national security is poverty, and in particular energy poverty. Bulgaria’s non-transparent energy sector seriously undermines the country’s economic development. Establishing regular sound monitoring mechanisms on energy security could be key for adequate policy-making in the area.
The Index of U.S. Energy Security Risk Indicator (IESRI), developed in 2012 by the Institute for 21st Century Energy at the American Chamber of Commerce shows that since 1980, Bulgaria has had one of the worst energy security risk index scores both nominally and compared to the OECD averages and was ranked in 73rd place in 2012. Its scores over the period averaged about 158% higher than those for the OECD.
Bulgaria’s energy security risk index increased since 2010. This recent deterioration relative to OECD averages is based on the energy expenditure volatility of the Bulgarian economy that according to IESRI has increased more than 10 times in the last 3 years (since 2009), reaching in 2012 one of the highest levels since 1980).
Among the main risk factors to Bulgaria’s energy security is its high dependence on fossil fuels import, in particular in the gas sector. The very high concentration of the Bulgarian gas market (monopoly of supply and distribution) provides ample opportunities for rent-seeking. Bulgaria’s involvement in various national, smaller regional, and large international projects can reduce the risks to its energy security if it is based on clear-cut prioritization of preferred options following sound and transparent cost-benefit analysis.