Natural Gas Europe Points to Clashing Gas Hub Ambitions of Bulgaria, Greece

Novinite Insider » OPINIONS | June 1, 2015, Monday // 15:23
Bulgaria: Natural Gas Europe Points to Clashing Gas Hub Ambitions of Bulgaria, Greece File photo

Natural Gas Europe pointed to the clashing gas hub ambitions of Bulgaria and Greece in a publication, which was released on Monday.

The publication starts by stating that Bulgaria and Greece have in the past few years demonstrated a will of combining forces and considered themselves as integral parts of a wider interconnected gas transit system.

At present, it was becoming evident that the two countries have diverging viewpoints and strategies, which will eventually clash as the two counties compete for obtaining natural gas hub presence in the Balkans.

In the view of Natural Gas Europe, Greece is actively promoting both the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) and the substitute of the cancelled South Stream – Turkish Stream.

The country is also airing the idea of resurrecting the Italy-Greece Interconnector (ITGI), which was initially projected to bring gas from Azerbaijan through western Greece to southern Italy via the Adriatic Sea.

Greek authorities propose for Turkish Stream to pass through the country as “Greek Stream” and then it will diverge into two branches – one main route towards the north via Macedonia and Serbia and another one towards Italy, which is to connect with the ITGI.

The publication reveals that ITGI is eligible for funding under the EU's Projects of Common Interest (PCI) and half of it is already owned by the Italian Edison, a subsidiary of French EDF.

The majority of the Turk-Greek stream will be directed towards the Austrian gas hub of Baumgarten, but it will also supply the traversing countries of the Balkans and Hungary as well as the market in northern Italy.

Greek Energy Minister Panayiotis Lafazanis considers that this will boost the ambition for Greek gas hub in the north of the country due to the simultaneous introduction of TAP and LNG.

The city of Thessaloniki has been identified as the likely location of the hub, where Greek Stream will diverge into its two proposed routes.

At the same time Bulgaria has its own priorities, which are opposite to the Greek ones with the idea for reviving the Nabucco project for bringing gas from Iran to Europe.

This can become a viable option in case the embargo is lifted and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani succeeds in convincing the country's establishment to export gas to Europe.

The Bulgarian Embassy in Tehran has led the dialogue, while the government in Sofia is eager to contact Rouhani.

Meanwhile, Bulgaria is attempting to construct the necessary gas hub infrastructure, which requires underground storage facilities and new transmission networks.

The country is relying on being granted funding under the EUR 315 B Investment Plan of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Despite the diverging aims of both countries, there are increased efforts to construct the interconnector between Bulgaria and Greece.

At the same time, an agreement has also been reached on the Vertical Gas Corridor together with the governments of Romania and Hungary.

The publication concludes that in line with the unstable international climate in Eurasia and the clashes between global energy systems the two countries are investing efforts to acquire a leading position in the gas hub race within the EU.

At the end a warning is issued that both countries fail to recognise that their competition will be beneficial to Turkey, which strengthens its position as the unchallenged gas hub.

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Tags: Bulgaria, greece, gas hub, TAP, South stream, Turkish Stream, ITGI, EU, investment plan, Nabucco, Iran, turkey, azerbaijan, pipeline, interconnector, Vertical Gas Corridor, infrastructure
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