Coal in Bulgaria
AUTHOR: Leonora McConville, Juliet Broadbent, Katerina Rousaki
DATE: January 1999
Bulgaria's national energy strategy includes plans to restructure the energy sector by introducing competition and privatisation, to promote energy efficiency and environmental protection and to prepare the country for integration into the EU energy market. Energy prices are still under government control and coal mining is heavily subsidised. Bulgaria is a major producer of coal, all of which is consumed locally. Most of the domestic production is low quality lignite used for electricity generation. Demand for hard coal is met by imports, mainly from the former USSR and the USA. Bulgaria generates almost half of its electricity needs from coal. Total reserves of lignite are estimated at 2.5 Gt. Coal production declined between 1987 and 1991 reflecting the economic disturbance following the break up of the USSR. In 1996, production was 32 Mt. The mining industry is being restructured, as Bulgaria is slowly moving from a centrally controlled economy to a market-based economy. Environmental damage as a result of coal production has been serious in Bulgaria, due to the use of low grade high sulphur content lignite.