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Ambassador Pyatt says US wants EU energy deal to block Russia

Backs Ukraine, Trans Adriatic Pipeline, nixes Nord Stream 2

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ATHENS – The United States will continue to work with the European Union to promote diversification of energy supplies and lessen dependence on Russia, US Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt told New Europe on February 1 on the sidelines of the Athens Energy Forum 2017.

“The US goal is to encourage a robust and resilient energy network across Europe. The EU has been a key partner with the United States in advancing the goal of energy diversification. The Ukrainian gas pipeline network is reliable. There is no question about that,” said Pyatt, who served as the US Ambassador to Ukraine before leaving Kiev and moving to Athens last year.

He said Washington supports projects like the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which plans to transport Caspian gas across Greece and Albania to Italy, but opposes the expansion of the Nord Stream pipeline from Russia to Germany.

“We would like to see additional projects like TAP, which I talked about in my remarks, which have the effect of increasing diversification of supply. We oppose projects like Nord Stream 2 that have effect of simply amplifying Europe’s dependence on Russian supplies,” Pyatt said.

The US Ambassador to Athens said that Washington works closely with Brussels and European Commission Vice President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič to increase the bloc’s energy security. “We have very, very strong synergies with the European Union. I talked in my remarks about my own great personal respect for Commissioner Šefčovič and the role the Commissioner played; it much the same here in our work with Greece as well,” Pyatt said.

Turning to energy developments in Eastern Mediterranean and the potential of exporting newly found gas supplies from the region to Europe, the US Ambassador told New Europe that the US is supportive of establishing a North-South gas corridor.

He said Greece’s Revithoussa liquefied natural gas (LNG) Terminal and a similar project in Croatia “have the effect of increasing resilience of European gas networks and facilitating diversification of supplies”.

Pyatt also said that Washington is “very supportive of cooperation between Greece, Cyprus and Israel,” which is strategically important. It says it promotes US goals of establishing a peace process in Cyprus and developing the region’s energy resources.

Meanwhile, Cyprus’ Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis told New Europe on the sidelines of the Athens Energy Forum that Nicosia and Washington share common strategic interests. “We have a very close relationship with the State Department. We’re very close and we look forward to the see the new Administration and to start discussions,” he said.

He said Cyprus could help boost the EU’s energy security and play a role in the EU Energy Union. “We’re discussing with the European Union a number of projects of common interest that will help us to ship the gas from Cyprus to Europe, involving Israel, involving Egypt, involving, of course, Greece, which is another member state,” he said.

Lakkotrypis said if there was not a solution to the Cyprus problem, “it would make things more difficult but it is not going to stop us. It hasn’t stopped us since 2013. There is no doubt that having Turkey as an additional option as a consumer or as a transit country will be a huge plus in everything that we do but if it doesn’t, we have other options as well”.

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Co-founder / Director of Energy & Climate Policy and Security at NE Global Media

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