Ukraine war speeds Greece’s transition to EU energy gateway | Russia-Ukraine war

Athens, Greece – In a few month, Greece will end constructing a pipeline to Bulgaria that can finish Russia’s gasoline monopoly there and in southeast Europe.

Russia has equipped 90 p.c of Bulgaria’s gasoline till now, however on April 27, it minimize Bulgaria off after Sofia stated it might not renew its contract with Russian gasoline large Gazprom on the finish of the 12 months.

Poland stated the identical, and suffered the identical destiny.

“[Russian President Vladimir] Putin didn’t need it to appear as if he’d misplaced shoppers, so he threw them out early,” stated Mike Myrianthis, an oil business veteran and analyst.

Bulgaria is now seeking to the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria, as the brand new pipeline is known as, to produce it with gasoline from Azerbaijan, which Greece receives by way of the Trans-Anatolian pipeline that traverses the Caucasus and Turkey.

“Since a couple of days in the past, Bulgaria is already out of the [Russian] pipeline system and totally depending on Greece [for gas]. That has by no means occurred earlier than. Greece has by no means been accountable for securing one other nation’s vitality safety,” stated Michalis Mathioulakis, who heads the Greek Vitality Discussion board, a think-tank.

What provides the IGB strategic significance, nonetheless, is that it may quickly grow to be the means for supplanting Russian gasoline all through the Balkans with liquefied pure gasoline from the US, Qatar, Egypt and elsewhere.

On January 31, a consortium of Greek, Cypriot, Bulgarian and Italian firms introduced that they’ll construct a floating terminal to import LNG offshore Alexandroupolis, in northern Greece.

This floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU), which can re-vaporise liquefied gasoline, will hook up with the IGB pipeline and begin supplying it on the finish of subsequent 12 months.

“I firmly consider that we’re witnessing a brand new daybreak in Europe’s vitality independence,” stated European Council president Charles Michel, at a ceremony to focus on the FSRU in Alexandroupolis on Could 3.

Curiosity within the undertaking has prolonged past Bulgaria.

North Macedonia, whose prime minister was additionally in attendance, was reportedly concerned about changing into a shareholder within the FSRU.

With Russian gasoline provide now embroiled within the politics of its conflict in Ukraine, even Russia-friendly Serbia is intrigued.

Its president, Aleksandar Vucic, instructed the Could 3 gathering of regional leaders, “I used to be one of many sceptics who all the time stated, ‘It received’t occur’ … Now that we see it’s prepared to start out, I can say we’re really grateful and we’re ready to obtain comparatively giant portions of gasoline.”

Mathioulakis instructed Al Jazeera, “[Southeast Europe] will rely increasingly more on gasoline that comes from Greece, so its geopolitical footprint within the Balkans will increase.”

Greece is changing into a gateway for LNG as a result of it’s surrounded by sea.

It has the one LNG import terminal within the Balkans as far north as Croatia, however its capability can barely cowl Greek demand in the intervening time.

However demand for non-Russian gasoline within the area has been rising so quick that the consortium constructing the Alexandroupolis FSRU, Gastrade, utilized for, and obtained, a licence for a second FSRU.

The Ukraine conflict was the important thing catalyst each for larger demand and for larger costs.

Motor Oil Hellas, a refinery close to Korinth in southern Greece, has been contemplating its personal FSRU. Earlier this 12 months, it performed a market take a look at petroleum business circles stated was extremely profitable, and an funding resolution is predicted this 12 months.

Yet one more FSRU is at a conceptual stage of growth offshore the japanese Greek port of Volos, which might be sponsored by ExxonMobil and buyers from the Gulf.

And Greece’s current LNG terminal at Revythousa close to Athens is being optimised to function at capability.

“Greek LNG terminals will likely be ready to totally cowl not solely the Greek market, however to supplant a good portion of Russian pure gasoline to the Balkans,” stated Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

“Moscow’s latest pure gasoline blackmail now render this cooperation not simply vital however, I’d say, pressing,” he stated.

Mitsotakis believed the initiatives which might be in superior phases of planning or building can be able to bringing in about 21 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gasoline a 12 months. In the course of the subsequent three years, Greece’s consumption has been projected to rise to soak up about half that quantity, leaving about 10bcm a 12 months for export to the Balkans.

The IGB can carry solely 5.5bcm a 12 months, however that might change if Greece sees demand for LNG past the Balkans.

“We’ll see over time what number of EU nations will demand LNG gasoline from Greece by means of this technique,” stated Myrianthis.

“It’s clear {that a} second pipeline will likely be made, parallel to IGB … The route is now a given. The land has been appropriated so there are not any bureaucratic hurdles. It can occur in a short time, so you’ll be able to simply attain 10bcm a 12 months,” he instructed Al Jazeera.

Compressors may conceivably double that, making IGB a rival to Turkish Stream, the Russian-built pipeline that crosses the Black Sea to feed into southeast Europe.

Greece has additionally been planning a separate interconnector to North Macedonia, and outdated, Soviet-era pipelines that used to convey Russian gasoline south are being reversed to hold LNG north to Bulgaria and North Macedonia.

However essentially the most audacious use of Russian infrastructure in opposition to Moscow continues to be to return, believed Myrianthis.

A Gazprom-led consortium has simply constructed a brand new pipeline traversing Bulgaria and Serbia to succeed in Hungary. Moscow meant it as an extension of Turkish Stream, pumping 15bcm per 12 months of Russian gasoline into the Balkans.

The EU has banned Russian coal and is within the technique of banning Russian oil.

Many analysts believed gasoline may comply with, stranding Russian gasoline infrastructure.

“EU sanctions [will at some point stop] Russian gasoline from flowing in it, and the gasoline from Alexandroupolis can movement by means of IGB and into this infrastructure. That is the geopolitical significance [of IGB],” stated Myrianthis.

Greece is able to play the position of gasoline conduit because of the final main Russian gasoline disaster of 2009, when Russia minimize off provide to Ukraine in midwinter, resulting in shortages and energy cuts all through southeast Europe.

That was when the European Fee started to fund the so-called “Southern Gasoline Hall”, which led to the creation of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline bringing Azeri gasoline throughout Greece. That was additionally when Gastrade utilized to licence the Alexandroupoli FSRU.

The idea of a southern vitality hall is being expanded.

The EU introduced this 12 months that it’s going to spend 657 million euros ($693m) to put a two-gigawatt undersea electrical energy cable to import electrical energy from Israel by way of Cyprus and Greece to the EU grid. Greece can even be the conduit for the same cable stretching from Egypt.

“Unquestionably the geopolitical significance of [Greece] is rising,” stated Thrasy Marketos, a visiting lecturer in Eurasian geopolitics on the College of the Peloponnese.

“Russia has tried to encompass Japanese Europe by means of its vitality wants in recent times … Putin understands Europe’s strategic vitality safety as a geopolitical recreation to divide Europe and promote his personal coverage.”

Since Putin declared conflict on Ukraine, the EU appeared to have declared conflict on his vitality coverage.

Leave a Reply