Gazprom has revived a project that would see an offshore pipeline built to bring Russian gas from Greece to Italy. The new project is named “Poseidon”.
What remains unclear is how the Russian gas will reach Greece in the first place, with two options currently on the table ― via Turkey or Bulgaria.
A “Memorandum of Understanding” was signed on Wednesday (24 February) to develop a gas pipeline project between Greece and Italy, enabling the realisation of a southern route for Russian gas supply to Europe.
The MoU was signed by Alexey Miller, CEO of Gazprom, Italy’s Edison CEO Marc Benayoun and Theodoros Kitsakos, the CEO of Greece’s DEPA public gas supply corporation
The signing ceremony followed a meeting between Miller and Federica Guidi, Minister of Economic Development of Italy. The ceremony was attended by George Tsipras, Secretary General for International Economic Relations of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Greece.
According to a Gazprom statement, the parties intend to use the works already performed by Edison and DEPA in relation to the ITGI Poseidon project.
Poseidon was shelved years ago, when it became obvious that TAP, the Trans Adriatic gas pipeline, was to become part of the Southern gas corridor, which aims to bring gas from Azerbaijan to Europe.
It remains unclear if Poseidon is a direct competitor of TAP for transporting Azeri gas, or if it is intended to be an additional route for Russian gas.
“The development of intra-European gas transmission capacities is an important element in securing reliable supplies of gas, including Russian gas, to consumers across Europe,” Miller was quoted as saying.
“The possible development of this new supply corridor, to be pursued in full accordance with EU legislations and regulations, will foster Italian security of supply and its role as a major southern European gas hub, in line with the National Energy Strategy objectives”, Benayoun said.
“The revival of the ITGI-Poseidon project strengthens Europe’s energy security with an additional supply corridor and further enhances Greece’s role as a major gateway for gas from diversified sources and routes,” said Kitsakos.
The Russian press writes that Poseidon could be the continuation either of “Turkish Stream” or of “South Stream”. South Stream was shelved in 2013, when the Commission put pressure on Bulgaria to stop the project which was found to be in breach of EU legislation. Russia responded with the “Turkish Stream” project”, replacing the entry point of its gas from the Bulgarian port of Varna to Kıyıköy on the European shore of Turkey.
But as Russian-Turkish relations deteriorated over the downing of the Russian warplane at the Syrian border on 24 November 2015, Russia seems to have second thoughts about returning to its initial South Stream project.
Sergei Pravosudov, director of the Russian Institute of National Energetics, said the Bulgarian route was the most advanced option for shipping Russian gas. However, governments in Sofia have been incapable of deciding for their country, he told the Russian press.
“Putting our hopes in the Bulgarians makes no sense. But if the EU Commission, or better the USA, permit to the Bulgarians to get Russian gas, they would happily seize this opportunity”, Pravosudov said.
Gas experts believe the race is about which pipeline project in the region would come to life first. There is no market for a second project, experts told EURACTIV.
The South Stream pipeline was designed to carry 63 bcm/y of Russian gas across the Black Sea to Bulgaria, and via Serbia, Hungary and Slovenia, to Italy. Its main shareholders were Russia’s Gazprom, and Italy’s ENI.
On 1 December 2013, Russia scrapped the South Stream pipeline project to supply gas to southern Europe, without crossing Ukraine, citing EU objections, and instead named Turkey as its preferred partner for an alternative pipeline.
After Russian-Turkish relations deteriorated over the downing of the Russian warplane at the Syrian border on 24 November 2015, word is out that Russia may bring gas at the Bulgarian shore, just as under the South Stream project.
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