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With Washington’s Blessing: Greece Wants To Be Hub For East Med, Caspian Gas

Egypt, Greece and Cyprus to hold a trilateral summit in Athens on December 9

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ATHENS – The major gas discoveries in Israel, Cyprus and Egypt have completely changed regional geopolitics and energy supply in the Eastern Mediterranean, Energean Oil & Gas Chairman CEO Mathios Rigas told New Europe.

On December 8, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi will visit Greece where he will attend a summit meeting with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades on December 9.

“These huge quantities of gas that have been found will be looking for a market – and naturally this market is Europe and we have to find a way to bring this gas into Europe via Greece and make Greece an energy hub,” Rigas said on the sidelines of a conference by the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce on December 1.

Greece can be an entry point for the rest of Europe via the Trans Adriatic pipeline (TAP) and the Interconnector Greece Bulgaria (IGB). “These are very important and strategic projects that need to happen in order to get Greece connected with the rest of Europe because at the moment Greece is completely isolated. Greece is a very small market,” Rigas said, adding that it can improve its consumption through investments and growth. “Any gas could come through Greece. We need to have LNG [liquefied natural gas]; we need to have pipelines; we need to have a number of different suppliers in order to be able to have security of supply for the Greek economy,” Rigas said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Athens on December 4 where he applauded the Greek government for moving forward on TAP and IGB that will bring Azeri gas to Europe.

Meanwhile, Rigas warned that unless all Greek political parties understand that energy is the area where there has to be consensus and the country adopts a national strategy, it’s going to be extremely difficult to create a concept of a Greek energy hub.

He also noted that LNG is the obvious solution for exporting gas from Cyprus and Israel. “The pipeline that has been discussed – the East Med – is a very ambitious project with a lot of technical and commercial difficulties. LNG is the obvious solution. Of course, there is a lot of politics involved because there is a discussion for a pipeline through Turkey; there is a discussion about LNG terminals. There are no LNG terminals at the moment that are available. Egypt’s terminals will be full with the gas that has been found in Egypt and more infrastructure is required in order to bring this gas into Europe,” Rigas said.

Italian ENI’s discovery of the massive Zohr gas field off the Egyptian coast is a game-changer for Cairo and the Mediterranean in terms of energy stability. “Up to a few years ago, Egypt was talking about importing gas from Israel. Now Egypt has enough gas for its own use and will be exporting gas,” Rigas said. “We have not fully explored the East Med. We still have Greece to explore and I think Greece is country that has a lot of potential we haven’t yet tapped.”

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

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