Saturday, 22 September 2018
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Energy Diplomacy

Athens, April 2017
Energy Diplomacy

Taking into consideration worldwide interest for energy policy issues in the 21st century and keeping in mind that the natural gas and oil transport networks are key priorities of our country's foreign policy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs monitors systematically international energy issues.

Particular emphasis is placed on developments in the fields of oil and natural gas pipelines, liquefied gas storage facilities, electric power grids and the relevant developments within the EU. At the same time, there is close coordination and cooperation with other competent Authorities, especially the Ministry of Environment and Energy.

In the natural gas sector, Greece aspires to emerge as a transit hub (natural gas pipelines, LNG terminals). Of primary importance is the Southern Corridor, which is a major component of the EU’s energy policy, thus contributing to strengthening the security and flexibility of its energy supply. The Southern Corridor includes the South Caucus Pipeline (SCP), the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP), and the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), transferring natural gas from the Caspian (Shah Deniz deposit) to the European market (Southern Italy) via Georgia, Turkey, Greece and Albania.

The Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) has a total length of 870km, of which 550 km on Greek soil. It has a projected capacity of 10 BCM annually, with the potential for upgrade to 20 BCM, depending on future supply and demand conditions.

TAP strengthens Greece’s energy security with the provision for supplies of 1 BCM annually, while it will also create new jobs via the involvement of Greek engineering and construction firms. Finally, TAP – which is implemented according to schedule- has been recognized as one of the 10 most important projects which are currently in progress worldwide .All necessary prior actions have been concluded, including the granting of the Installation Act, for the construction of the Greek section. The inauguration of the TAP Greek section was held in Thessaloniki on 17.05.2016 under the auspices of the Prime Minister. The construction of the Greek section of the pipeline has progressed significantly, since a trench of 205 km has been already excavated while  95 km of pipelines have been assembled and placed.

We strongly promote our cooperation on energy issues with the Eastern Mediterranean countries. We encourage regional cooperation, rendering our domestic natural gas routes  pillars of stability and prosperity in the area.  Last year the third consecutive Summit Meeting in the framework of the trilateral cooperation between Greece, Egypt and Cyprus took place. On 28.01.2016 the first Trilateral Summit Meeting of Greece-Cyprus-Israel was also held in Nicosia, in which energy cooperation was a key issue, with particular view to the promotion of projects "EuroAsia Interconnector" and "EastMed Pipeline" respectively. Through these trilateral cooperation schemes we aim to strengthen not only energy security in the wider region, but also to contribute substantially to the diversification of energy sources and routes for the EU, in view of the exploitation of natural gas deposits discovered in Egypt, Israel and Cyprus. We are working hard so that, through our country, energy interconnection can be achieved in the gas sector between Eastern Mediterranean and Europe. We support the planned pipeline «East Med Pipeline», which will transport gas quantities from the basin Levant in Western Europe (N. Italy) through Crete and Greek mainland with planned capacity 8 bcm. The LNG facilities of Revithoussa, which are expanded and upgraded and the creation of a floating gas terminal in Alexandroupolis can be the gateway to Europe, for natural gas from Cyprus, Israel and Egypt.

Our country also promotes the implementation of a Vertical gas corridor, which is designed to be powered by natural gas from various sources including the terminal LNG Revythoussa, the scheduled floating LNG terminal Northern Greece and, through its interconnection, with the Trans Adriatic pipeline (TAP) to: (a) Bulgaria via interconnector IGB pipeline, (b) Romania, upgrading the “sub-dunabian” interconnector pipeline Romania-Bulgaria (IBR), (c) to Hungary and (d) eventually other countries.

A section of the Vertical Corridor is the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria pipeline (IGB) that connects Komotini with Stara Zagora and aspires to become an additional energy "bridge" for the transportation of natural gas to the Southeast and Central European countries. The signing of the Final Investment Decision signifies a new phase for this project. It is noted that there is capability of actual reverse flow at the existing Greek-Bulgarian pipeline Kula-Strymonochori from which our country imports Russian natural gas through networks of Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria.

Given that the objective of Greek policy is both to make our country an energy hub in Southeast Europe and to enhance the diversification of sources, Greece participates in the relevant procedures for the transport of Russian natural gas to Europe (southern routing of Russian gas). A positive development towards this direction was the signing of an MoU between DEPA, Edison SpA and Gazprom (Rome, 02.24.2016) for the development of a new Russian natural gas pipeline to Italy via Greece, in a plan compatible with the energy “aquis communautaire”. We believe that the above mentioned route for transporting Russian natural gas through our country will contribute to the uninterrupted supply of European consumers, through diversification of gas routes.

The overall design for the construction of pipelines, which will highlight Greece as a transit hub is completed by the host plant of re-gasification of liquefied natural gas (LNG) at the  Revithoussa terminal , that operates continuously since early 2000, with imports of natural gas mainly from Algeria, under long-term contract. This LNG terminal has been significantly upgraded. It consists of two tanks with a capacity of 130,000 cubic meters in liquid form. In 2013 a construction contract was signed  for a third tank with a capacity of 95,000 cubic meters, while increasing the gasification rate and upgrading the capabilities of the meter station of the Holy Trinity in Megara, where the entry point to the national network  is located. The completion of the upgrade of the entire project is expected in mid 2018.

Furthermore, the perspective of operation of the floating storage stations and regasification of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in Northern Greece,  complement, in the best way, the vision of creating an additional energy gateway for significant amounts of natural gas that could cater both the needs of the Greek and those of the regional markets. The Northern Greece terminal will consist of a -specially adapted for floating LNG- station with a capacity of 170,000 cubic meters, which will have its own gasification station, of initial capacity of 3 bcm per year with an extendable capacity up to 6 bcm. The floating unit will be connected to the National gas transmission system (NGTS) through a submarine pipeline with a total length of 26 km .

Finally, we are examining the possibility of converting the depleted Kavala oil field in a gas storage facility, an action which will further enhance the energy security of the country, especially in the event of potential energy crises.

In the electricity sector, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs collaborates with the competent Ministries, taking into account the European energy policies and informing all relevant Greek organizations. Significant interest is vested to the promotion of the interconnection of Israel-Cyprus-Crete-Attica, via the EuroAsia Interconnector. The relative transfer of electricity via submarine cable of 820 nautical miles length and 2000 MW of power, will enable cross-flow, creating thus a relation of interdependence between the isolated energy markets of Israel and Cyprus with the EU market.

National energy objectives for 2020 in the energy sector form a powerful development business context within which Greece is called to exploit the opportunities offered by the domestic natural resources available in renewable energy technologies (RES), maximizing the participation of RES in the “energy mix”, saving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Τhe achievement of these goals will contribute to the security of energy supply, the optimal use of resources and strengthen the competitiveness of key sectors of the Greek economy.

In the rapidly growing industry of Renewable Energy Sources (RES), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs consults with stakeholders, while keeping up with the latest trends at the national, European and international level. In addition, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs actively contributes to the development of the domestic potential in RES industry (business, R&D), since our country has acquired considerable expertise in the field. In addition, the Ministry encourages domestic RES related companies and professional to expand their activities in foreign markets in new markets, utilizing the network  of the Economic and Commercial affairs sections of our embassies.

In conclusion, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs -through our Diplomatic Missions abroad- monitors all international energy developments, as well as international agreements and trends in this area, given that such developments have a significant impact on  geopolitical issues. Furthermore, the Ministry acknowledges the energy sector as a development tool with high added value for our country.  Similarly, it monitors closely relevant issues which are under discussion in the context of international and regional energy organizations, where decisions are made for the global and European energy future.