Athens Energy Forum: ‘There is more natural gas’ in the East Med

Athens Energy Forum: ‘There is more natural gas’ in the East Med

Energy is the reason why U.S. ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey R. Pyatt, went to Ankara yesterday, Thursday, said Steven Bitner, an economist at the US Embassy in Athens, speaking at the Athens Energy Forum conference.

The latest developments in the Eastern Mediterranean region due to Ankara’s choices have been a cause for concern.

The goal, as agreed by all participants at the Athens Energy Forum, as gas demand will increase steadily in the coming years, is transnational co-operation so that all involved sides make the most of the energy game in progress in the Eastern Mediterranean.

However, the remaining “thorns” are the Cyprus issue, the war in Syria, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Arrows against Russia

“Energy security of our allies is a fundamental U.S. national interest. Russia is using its leverage over Europe’s energy as a political tool repeatedly. When allies access reliable and diversified energy, they are less assessable to outside powers. Here in Europe we have seen the use of energy as a tool to foment instability by one specific player.” This is what Steven Bitner, the Economic Officer of the U.S. embassy in Athens said, using the words by Wess Mitchell, the European and Eurasian Affairs at the U.S. State Department.

Bitner added: “Russia’s goal is to divide the West and drive U.S. apart from their allies, its efforts are smart and coordinated, and this use of energy is a part of a hyper tool kit.”

The U.S. are looking forward to the exports of American LNG

“Greece has a very important role to play in contributing to European energy security,” he noted, stressing that “we hope that as long as Greece proceeds to liberalize the domestic energy market, it will be among the countries that, in the coming years, it will introduce the American LNG to Europe”.

While in Washington in October (2017), the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had pledged that Greece will contribute to European energy security by supporting the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) and the Greece-Bulgaria Inter-connector (IGB) pipelines and promoting liquefied natural gas by installing similar units, which will also be able to receive American LNG; In response, the American side had noted: “Donald Trump appreciates Greek contributions to European energy security through its support of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), the Greece-Bulgaria Interconnector (IGB) and the liquefied natural gas facilities that are capable of transporting diverse sources of energy to Europe, including potential liquefied natural gas exports from the United States. These initiatives make both our people safer and create jobs” (Tuesday 17 October 2017).

As he has said, “such initiatives makes us feel safer while at the same they also create more jobs”.

Finally, Steven Bitner noted that “the LNG imports, including the quantity of the American liquified natural gas, will play an important role in safeguarding alternative provisioning sources for the Greek market but also for the market of the wider region. For sure, the U.S. want to see the American LNG exporters being successful but the final winner will be the consumers.”

It it noteworthy that the American LNG has already reached Europe via Spain, Portugal and Lithuania.

“If we don’t cooperate we will lose more than we have to gain”

The above written phrase is by Nabil Fahmy, Dean, of the School of Global Affairs & Public Policy at the American University of Cairo and former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt.

Referring specifically to Turkey, he admitted that, “It is a complicated moment in our relationship with Turkey.”

As far as the cooperation among Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon and Palestine is concerned, the former minister underlined that, “We will never really reach the optimum level of cooperation in energy unless there is a better management of our geopolitics. Energy industry is expensive, is strategic, is long term, so let’s be realistic with which can be done, unless we want to deal with political issues. We can discuss and debate how much gas may exist in the Eastern Mediterranean. We can all agree that there is more to be found”, Fahmy added…/IBNA