Thursday, July 18, 2024
 
 

Greece caught in EU’s pipeline spat with Russia

Politics tangles up Europe’s energy hopes

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DELPHI, Greece – The Southern Gas Corridor (SGC), which includes the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP), the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) and the Interconnector-Greece-Bulgaria (IGB), takes precedence over an agreement signed by Russia’s Gazprom’s, Italy’s Edison and Greece’s DEPA in Rome on February 24 to develop a natural gas pipeline between Greece and Italy to transport Russian gas to Europe, a European Commission energy spokeswoman told New Europe on February 25.

“The Commission saw the announcement by three private firms (DEPA SA, Edison SpA and Gazprom) about their intention to build a pipeline. The Commission remains with its known position that interconnection projects must contribute to the EU’s diversification and energy security strategy, and is compatible with all the relevant EU legal requirements; in particular the third energy package rules. That is part and parcel of the Energy Union,” the spokeswoman said from Brussels.

The Southern Gas Corridor plans to transport Caspian gas to Europe, lessening the EU’s dependence on Russia. “The immediate priority for the region remains the completion of the Southern Gas Corridor, including TANAP, the Greece-Italy Trans-Adriatic Pipeline and the Greece-Bulgaria IGB interconnector. The Southern Corridor is successfully being put in place to supply gas from Azerbaijan to the EU by 2020. The Corridor also offers the potential, in the future, to facilitate the entry of other gas sources into the EU from the Eastern Mediterranean, the Caspian, and the Middle East,” she added.

For its part, Russia strives to lessen its reliance on Ukraine as a transit country. Citing EU objections in December 2014, Russia scrapped the South Stream project, opting instead for the Turkish Stream pipeline. But the project was frozen, following the deterioration of relations between Moscow and Ankara.

Constantinos Filis, director of research at Institute of International Relations, told New Europe on the sidelines of the Delphi Economic Forum that he always insisted that Turkish Stream could only be materialised in half of its original planned capacity of 63-billion cubic metres and through the revival of Interconnector-Turkey-Greece-Italy (ITGI).

He noted that the discussed northern route for extending Turkish Stream through FYROM and Serbia was problematic and could not secure the necessary lobbying in Brussels.

Unlike the northern route, the Interconnector-Greece-Italy (IGI-Poseidon), due to its maturity – in terms of permissions – and EDF’s involvement through Edison, was considered as a more realistic option, Filis said.

“Given the increase in demand for Russian gas and Moscow’s decision to bypass Ukraine – although not totally – and despite the development of Nord Stream 2, there is still space for transporting 12 billion cubic metres through IGI to Italy and around 4-5 billion cubic metres feed the Southeast European market,” Filis said.

“What has not yet been decided is whose soil will be used in reaching Greece: Turkey’s or Bulgaria’s. I am confident that this time Gazprom will respect the third energy package and all regulations stemming from it, as well as enter into consultations with the European Commission in making sure that at least no legal barriers will be raised during the upcoming process. I do not expect this project to start before 2019-2020.”

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

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