ATHENS – As European antitrust regulators are expected on April 22 to charge Gazprom with abusing its dominance in natural gas markets, the CEO of the Russian gas monopoly, Alexei Miller, met in Athens with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
A couple hours earlier, Miller held talks with Industry, Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis.
Greece and Russia discussed the Greek Stream pipeline, which is expected to extend Turkish Stream across Greek territory. The project will carry Russian natural gas across the Black Sea through Turkey and Greece to Central Europe.
Miller said in a statement that the company could guarantee annual shipments of 47 billion cubic metres of gas via Greece. He said Athens could raise commercial loans against the guaranteed deliveries.
The investment for the construction of the Greek section of the pipeline is estimated at €2 billion with both sides saying that its implementation will improve the supply safety for the Greek market, create new work positions and upgrade geopolitically the country.
Miller said the consortium would have no problem attracting the €2 billion and that some companies had already shown interest. He assured that the project would be carried out strictly according to European Union legislation.
Lafazanis told reporters after the meeting at the Greek premier’s mansion that there is no reason why the EU would object to this project, as it will be compatible with EU regulations and since it has already given the green light for the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP).
Lafazanis said Russia and Greece were discussing an agreement on the pipeline but “nothing was signed today. The talks are at a very good point, they are continuing and we hope that they will be soon successfully completed benefiting or country and the Greek economy”.
However, Russia and Greece discussed the formation of a working group that will advance the project, assign tasks and set the necessary time frames.
Tsipras paid a two-day trip to Moscow earlier in April, where he met Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russia’s Turkish Stream is as an alternative to the South Stream pipeline that Moscow shelved last year in the face of objections from the EU. Gazprom is not willing to participate in constructing the pipeline through the European territory because it wants to avoid the Third Energy Package.
Turkish Stream’s underwater and Turkish section will have a length of 660 kilometres following the same route in Black Sea but with a landfall on Turkey instead of Bulgaria.
Turkish Stream will have an annual capacity of 63 billion cubic metres of gas. Around 16 billion cubic metres of gas will supply Turkey, and the rest pumped to a hub on the Turkish-Greek border for customers in Europe.
Miller has said that Russia will stop delivering gas to Europe through Ukraine when the current contract expires in 2019 and redirect transit to the Turkish Stream pipeline.
The contract with Ukraine will not be renewed after 2019, Miller told a conference in Berlin on April 13, adding that the main reason behind South Stream’s suspension was to keep gas routed through Ukraine.
A third of Russian gas delivered to Europe goes through Ukraine. However, Moscow has repeatedly expressed concerns over the reliability of safe gas transit via Ukraine. Gazprom switched Ukraine to a gas prepayment scheme in June due to Kiev’s failure to pay its gas bills.
At the beginning of April, Gazprom and Naftogaz of Ukraine signed a new contract for gas deliveries in the second quarter of 2015 with a 25% price discount.
(Used by permission of New Europe)