Following his visit to Alexandroupolis (NE Greece), U.S. Ambassador to Athens, Geoffrey Pyatt, who was in the area accompanied by the U.S. Consul. in Thessaloniki, Gregory Pfleger and executives of the US Embassy in Greece, including the Defense Representative, Captain Timothy Ketter, and Economic Affairs Adviser, William Laitine, sent a resounding message to all parties interested (in business and energy).
“Evros” – as Geoffrey Pyatt has said to Greek state-run ANA-MPA news agency – “has a particularly strategic geographic position, it is the border with Turkey, the border with Bulgaria, it is the bridge between Asia Minor and the EU, it is a region that historically is the focus of geopolitical developments and, our presence, is part of the U.S. commitment to underpin our active participation and co-operation with Greece, as Greece is in the process of economic recovery.”
“There is”, according to him, “a plan by the U.S. government for specific investments. This will be decided by private companies. What will happen with the privatisation of the port of Alexandroupolis depends on the decisions made by Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund S.A. (TAIPED) and the Greek government. What is clear to me, is that there is enormous potential, there is economic value that can be unlocked, and we very much hope that U.S. companies will find the conditions the government is creating. Because we see this kind of investment as a way to help accelerate the process of economic recovery in Greece and to promote the American strategy for the development of Greece as a pillar of stability in the region.”
However, as the U.S. diplomat has said, there is no specific investment plan on the part of the United States, but Washington’s interest in the LNG unit or floating storage and regasification unit, well known as FSRU, in Alexandroupolis.
The LNG floating station of Alexandroupolis is an important project that is expected to secure new gas quantities to supply the Greek and regional markets of SE Europe, contributing, at the same time, to the expansion of natural gas supply sources and to energy security.
No matter what the final decision for the Alexandroupolis FSRU will be, according to Greece’s Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) CEO, Dimitris Tzortzis, this is expected by the end of 2018, after the market test to demonstrate the commercial interest in the project, with the aim of in the second half of 2020 the project is fully operational.
The next goal will be the completion of the Greece-Bulgaria gas inter-connector pipeline, the IGB pipeline. It is also recalled that DEPA has proceeded to negotiate a multi-year contract with the US LNG exporter from Cheniere Energy, Inc. This is a unique collaboration as it concerns a future work, which, at present. exists as a “plan” in paper. Geoffrey Pyatt, during his visit to Alexandroupolis, had successive meetings with the Deputy Mayor of Evros, the mayor of Alexandroupolis, Vangelis Lambakis, the President of the Port Authority of Alexandroupolis and the President of the Evros Chamber of Commerce.
His commitment to maintaining a strong dialogue between the U.S. Embassy in Greece and the municipality of Alexandroupolis was voiced by the U.S. diplomat immediately after his meeting with the mayor of Alexandroupolis, Vangelis Lambakis.
“We talked about the investments and opportunities we see in Alexandroupolis through a combination of strategic projects. The privatisation of the harbour, the LNG (unit) we hope to proceed to, the imminent completion of the TAP gas pipeline, the approval by the Greek and Bulgarian governments for the IGB gas pipeline, the privatisation of the Egnatia Motorway. All this will take advantage of the city’s strategic location to create investment opportunities for Greece and Europe”, said Geoffrey Pyatt. On his part, Vangelis Lambakis stressed that “it was absolutely clear to both sides that Alexandroupolis has a prime position on the energy map, but also, more generally, on the geopolitical and geostrategic maps, bringing together many countries, two continents, in a truly enviable place. The only thing we expected is to be benefited from it, while the interests of the Americans coincide with the interests of the Greeks.”…. / IBNA