Greece’s energy planning in the Balkans and Easter Med at the NCFP meeting

Greece’s energy planning in the Balkans and Easter Med at the NCFP meeting

The convening, at the initiative of Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, of the National Council on Foreign Policy on Wednesday, May 10 – in which competent Minister of Energy Giorgos Stathakis will participate – focusing energy developments in the Balkans and in the region of the Mediterranean and especially the country’s initiatives for its emergence as an energy hub of crucial importance for the whole of Europe takes place at a critical juncture for energy developments.

While initiatives are in full swing that highlight both the strategic position of the country and the identification of Greek foreign policy priorities for security and stability in the region with the respective priorities of all the major players operating in the same area…

What has preceded?

On March 13 Nikos Kotzias met with the US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson in Washington. Using a map, the Greek minister spoke with a language and specific facts that his American counterpart and former CEO of energy giant EXXON MOBIL (which has a strong presence in the Cypriot deposits) understands more than anyone else.

“I explained the energy projects in the area… the energy networks, railways, cooperation between universities and research centers are first and foremost networks of stability and secondarily generators of financial profit”, the Greek Foreign Minister had characteristically stated after the meeting. In fact he did not fail to add: “”We discussed the very good and intensive cooperation we have with Israel and Egypt and I imagine that he heard this with great interest”. According to sources, Mr. Tillerson listened carefully to Mr. Kotzias’ analysis of the triangular cooperation between Greece, Cyprus, Israel and Greece, Cyprus, Egypt as well as the added value that the development of the EASTMED pipeline provides to energy security and autonomy in Europe…

On March 14 Nikos Kotzias had the opportunity to highlight to H.R. McMaster too – the National Security Advisor to the US President – the importance of Greece’s position as a pole of stability and strategic transit hub of energy pipelines and resources, both to the EU and the Balkan region. The meeting was scheduled to last 40 minutes and took more than an hour and a half. It even became known that the White House Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, also joined the talks, i.e. the two most powerful aides to the President were informed first hand of Greece’s abilities on issues of safety, energy and stability in an area that is vital to America interests.

Just a few days ago there was also a very significant development with respect to the EASTMED pipeline: On 3 April a quadripartite meeting took place in Tel Aviv between the Energy Ministers of Greece, Cyprus, Israel and Italy focusing on the promotion of the project for the Mediterranean gas pipeline and aiming at the transportation of gas reserves from the in the Eastern Mediterranean – through Crete, the Peloponnese and Italy – to European destinations.

It is considered highly significant that in this the meeting the European Commissioner for Climate Change and Energy Issues, Miguel Arias Cañete, took part, proving in practice the EU’s active interest in a project that could dramatically increase the energy efficiency and security of Europe.

Energy issues are now running at a fast pace in the Eastern Mediterranean forming a framework for cooperation that can offer impressive benefits for all the countries in the region.

All the above issues are expected to be the focus of National Council for Foreign Policy on Holy Wednesday, according to diplomatic sources.

The NCFP is also expected to discuss, among other energy projects, the following:

The Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP): It is a key part of the Southern Gas Corridor, which will transport natural gas from the Caspian to Europe and will be operational in 2020. Already about 1/3 or 250 km. of the pipeline have been completed, while the prospect of opening three new connection points in northern Greece which will lead to the further development of the National Gas Transmission System in the region is being discussed.

The Greek-Bulgarian pipeline (IGB): the construction of the project will begin in 2018, with of the EU having expressed a strong commitment to assist in the acceleration of technical procedures related to the NSRF.

Liquefied Natural Gas Terminals: The Revythoussa upgrading project  is to be completed in December 2017. After the upgrade, the unloading and gasification of up to 7 bcm of natural gas will be possible, while the port will also be able to serve ships of maximum size. At the same time, the construction of a power plant in Alexandroupolis is proceeding intensively, with the promotion of the integration of the project in the third package of EU projects of common interest (PCI) and the immediate completion of the technical and economic studies.

Russian-Turkish pipeline: It seems that the planning of the Turkish Stream pipeline – a Russian-Turkish initiative to replace the South Stream that was canceled – is proceeding. The pipeline aspires to feed Europe with Russian gas through Greece.

EuroAsia Interconnector: In the electricity sector, the interconnection between Israel, Cyprus and Greece is proceeding. The relative transport of electricity through a 820 nautical mile submarine cable with a capacity of 2000 MW will be dual flow, thus creating a relationship of interdependence between the isolated energy markets of Israel and Cyprus with the EU market./IBNA