Tuesday, 18 May 2021
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Energy Diplomacy

Energy Diplomacy

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic acknowledges the importance of international energy policy issues in the 21st century and considers the energy policy-making process a high priority of our country.  Particular emphasis is placed on energy developments in the field of natural gas and oil pipelines, liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage stations, electricity grids, Renewable Energy Sources (RES), as well as on developments in the European Union and other international energy organizations. At the same time, there is close coordination and cooperation with the Hellenic Ministry of Environment and Energy, as well as with government or other bodies operating in the same field.

Through the establishment of international energy relations, Greece's energy policy pursues maximization of energy security, competitiveness of prices and diversification of sources. In this direction, there are a number of bilateral, trilateral or quadrilateral schemes of cooperation with countries of the wider region, where the Greek-Cypriot axis lays as cornerstone. In this context, Greece intensively promotes energy cooperation with the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean (Israel, Egypt and other countries). Furthermore,  at a multilateral level our country is actively engaged in several schemes (European Union, Energy Union, East Mediterranean Gas Forum-EMGF, International Energy Agency - IEA, etc.), as well in the region of South-Eastern Europe and the Western Balkans.

Greece wishes to act as a gateway and an energy transit hub from east to west and from south to north. Thus, it is of great importance that a part of the so-called Southern Corridor crosses our country. A major component of the EU's policy for energy security and diversification of sources, the Southern Corridor includes the SCPX (South Caucasus Pipeline Expansion), TANAP (Trans-Anatolian Pipeline) and TAP (Trans Adriatic Pipeline) pipelines, transporting natural gas from the Caspian Sea (Second Development Stage of the Shah Deniz gas field) to the European market (Southern Italy) via Georgia, Turkey, Greece and Albania.

Τhe TAP pipeline, being an E.U. PCI project (Project of Common Interest) and the last part of the Southern Gas Corridor, is considered as one of the ten most important energy projects being implemented worldwide. The construction of the Greek section of TAP is completed. TAP contributes to Greece's energy security by supplying our country with 1 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year, upgrades its role as a transport hub from the Caspian fields to Europe's markets and creates new opportunities for the Southeast Europe's emerging energy markets to meet their energy challenges through “vertical” interconnectors. The Ionian Adriatic Pipeline (IAP) is a typical example, of a bi-directional gas pipeline planned to be connected with TAP at Fieri, Albania, to run through Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina to  Split, Croatia.

Moreover, North Macedonia is interested in being supplied by TAP and other energy infrastructure of the region through Greece. Towards this end, a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between the competent authorities of the two countries for the construction of a gas interconnector, with the planned starting point being in Greece’s New Mesimvria.

Our country promotes the implementation of a “Vertical Gas Corridor” (crossing Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Ukraine and Moldova), which will actually be a network of existing and proposed natural gas infrastructure projects. Its purpose will be to carry natural gas from a variety of sources, such as the Revithoussa LNG Terminal, the planned Alexandroupolis FSRU and TAP, through Bulgaria to the Central and Eastern European countries.

A key project for the realization of the Vertical Gas Corridor, that can also operate as its first part, is the IGB (Greece-Bulgaria Interconnector) gas pipeline, a bi-directional pipeline that will connect the Greek and Bulgarian gas networks (Komotini-Stara Zagora), IGB is designed to transport natural gas from the above mentioned sources. An Intergovernmental Agreement on the implementation of the project was signed between Greece and Bulgaria on October 10, 2019 in Sofia.

Following the discovery of significant hydrocarbon reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean (Egypt, Israel, Cyprus), productive cooperation with neighbouring countries and the EU on the energy sector is a priority for our country. In implementing this policy, Greece actively promotes the operation and planning of energy infrastructure in the region. Significantly, the EastMed Gas Pipeline (Greece-Cyprus-Israel-Italy), which is planned to transport gas from the Levantine Basin fields to Europe via Crete and mainland Greece, as well as the electrical interconnections between Greece, Cyprus, Israel and Egypt, are expected to produce geopolitical and economic benefits for all stakeholders at regional and European level. In this regard, our country actively participates in the various tripartite, quadrilateral and multilateral schemes that have been developed in the region.

In addition to the above, demand for LNG is rapidly increasing worldwide due to its flexibility in use, its price competitiveness, its relatively low environmental impact, in comparison to other fossil fuels, and the implementation of an energy transition policy for a decarbonised economy at a global level. Following current trends, Greece optimizes the operation of the LNG terminal in Revithoussa and promotes the planning and construction of the floating LNG storage and regasification unit (FSRU) in Alexandroupolis, with the aim of obtaining energy security for itself and the wider region, while exploiting the potential of the LNG sector.

Likewise, the LNG terminal in Revithoussa, one of the 24 LNG terminals in the European Union and the only one in South-Eastern Europe, has been operating continuously since the early 2000s, and has been receiving LNG imports based on long-term contracts mostly from Algeria, as well as imports from the spot market. After its recent upgrade, it further contributes to the security of energy supply and the operational flexibility of the transportation system, while guaranteeing supply sufficiency to neighbouring countries as well. Meanwhile, the implementation of the FSRU in Alexandroupolis will offer a new LNG entry point and additional capacity of provision with significant quantities of natural gas for the Greek and regional markets.

Another pillar of great importance for Greece’s energy policy and diplomacy is the exploration and exploitation of indigenous reserves of hydrocarbons, a sector correlated to both energy security and economic development issues. Within the objective of exploration activity in new fields, Greece's diplomatic missions abroad contribute in attracting the interest of international energy groups.

In the rapidly developing RES sector, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs monitors new market trends and directions at domestic, European and international level (eg IRENA), while consulting with various stakeholders at all levels. In addition, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs actively contributes to the outreach of the domestic potential in the RES sector (business, scientific / research), as our country has developed significant know-how in the sector, promoting the opening of the Greek RES sector to new foreign markets through the Economic and Trade Offices of our Embassies.
The national energy targets for 2030 form a strong growth business framework in which Greece is called to utilize the potential of its natural resources, with the development of new technologies, maximizing their participation in the "energy mix", achieving energy savings and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Achieving these targets will further secure energy supply, allow an optimal use of natural resources and  strengthen the competitiveness of key sectors of the Greek economy. The active participation of Greece in the EU discussions for the energy transition and development of the role of Hydrogen as a long-term clean energy option, should also be emphasized.

In conclusion, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs views the energy sector as a lever of development of the country with high added value. Through the Diplomatic  Missions Abroad, and in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment and Energy as well as with other relevant bodies, it monitors international developments, agreements and trends in the energy sector, since these also greatly influence geopolitical developments. Additionally, it monitors the issues  dealt with in the EU and other international and regional energy organizations, where decisions are taken for the European and the Global energy future.

Monday, 21 December 2020