Friday, December 8, 2023

Walking the line, Greece backs dueling EU pipelines

Tsipras moves to appease Putin, get gas going

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ATHENS – Greece continues to view positively plans by DEPA, Edison and Gazprom to revive the IGI Poseidon pipeline to transport Russian gas across Greece to Italy, despite the construction launch of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), a source at the Greek Ministry of Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy told New Europe on May 20.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to visit Greece on May 28 to boost Moscow’s relations with Athens.

“This issue is anyway on the energy agenda as far as the Greek government is concerned. The government has said it views positively the project, noting that this initiative by the companies is a positive development. At the moment, I don’t have any information on whether or not the Russian and Greek leaders will discuss it,” the source said.

On February 24, Russian gas monopoly Gazprom, Italy’s Edison and Greek Public Gas Corporation DEPA signed a memorandum of understanding in Rome to transport natural gas from Russia — through the Black Sea and third countries — to Greece and to Italy.

However, a key part of the EU-backed Southern Gas Corridor, TAP, which will connect Caspian gas resources with the European market bypassing Russia, was launched in Thessaloniki on May 17 under the auspices of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

The source at ministry told New Europe that TAP is currently being implemented. If they were competitive, IGI Poseidon wouldn’t even be discussed. “We don’t consider them to be competitive because they have different sources. It also depends on the needs of the European market,” the source said. “We’re talking about TAP, which begun to be constructed. Therefore, when and if plans advance for the other project, TAP will have already advanced so that answers the question whether they’re competitive. You don’t have two projects racing together in order to have a winner.”

“When the three companies signed the memorandum in Rome [to revive IGI Poseidon], the TAP project was already mature. I believe that we’ll have a clearer picture of the need for this project down the road,” the source said, adding that the Greek Ministry’s position on the IGI Poseidon can be summed up in one sentence: “That’s a good idea.”

The source noted that even though Turkish Stream was never officially cancelled the deteriorating relations between Moscow and Ankara would make it extremely difficult. However, Russian gas would have to cross a third country before reaching Greece, the source said.

The Greek Energy Ministry has said the project would have to abide with EU laws and regulations. The source noted, however, that while the IGI Poseidon would not lead to the lessening of Europe’s reliance on Russian gas, it would lead to the diversification of supply routes.

“We have always said that we pursue a multilateral energy policy. Geographically and geopolitically, Greece is in a position to connect supplier and consumer countries. We don’t rule out any project. We want to facilitate ‘marriages’, make Greece a transit country and reap the benefit. We have good relations with the Middle East, we spoke with Iran; with Russia we have important long-standing energy relations. They supply us with the majority of gas,” the source said.

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


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