Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, speaking at the 3rd Thessaloniki Summit 2018, attended by Bulgarian and Serbian PMs and the Deputy PM of Romania, said that Greece is actively promoting the initiative to continue building the Turkish Stream across the Greek-Turkish border.
He noted that this way, the Turkish Stream will reach Europe through Greek territory.
Tsipras recalled that the possibility of withdrawing a branch from the Eastern Mediterranean Natural Gas (EastMed) pipeline, which is a joint project of Greece, Israel, Italy and Cyprus, to the Balkans is being studied.
“We are promoting significant prospects in Brussels for expanding the Turkish Stream gas pipeline to Greece,” TASS cited the Prime Minister as saying.
According to Tsipras, the completion of the Southern Gas Corridor is a project that is of paramount importance for Greece and also serves as an element of the EU energy strategy. He said that it is planned to connect the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) to the Gas Interconnector Greece – Bulgaria (IGB) and to the interconnecting gas corridor between Macedonia and Greece in order to supply natural gas to the countries of the Western Balkans.
Theodora Georgieva, Executive Director of ICGB AD, the project company of the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria, said that the work to start the construction of the IGB was completed by more than 80%.
Financial issues have been fully agreed, negotiations are underway regarding the preparation of an intergovernmental agreement between Bulgaria and Greece on tax matters for a period of 25 years.
A leading analyst of the National Energy Security Fund, a lecturer at the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, Igor Yushkov, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, said that the Greek route as the extension of the Turkish Stream does not seem to be a priority now, since running a second pipeline to Bulgaria would be the most cost-effective for Russia.
“On the one hand, the intergovernmental agreement between Russia and Turkey says that the Turkish section of the second line will reach the border of Turkey and Greece, and then it will go through Greece. On the other hand, it is more profitable for us to pass the second line from Turkey to Bulgaria, using a pipe which supplies Russian gas to Turkey via Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria,” he explained.
“In this case, from Bulgaria the gas pipeline will go along the old route of the South Stream to Serbia, then to Hungary, and to Austria. Along the way, this line will probably export gas to Bulgaria as well, to Greece, Serbia and Hungary, and the remaining gas will be redistributed to the north and west.
The main benefit of this option is that there is no need to design anything, there are agreements with local gas transmission system operators.
However, there is also a minus of the Bulgarian direction: Bulgarians abandoned the South Stream project under pressure of the U.S. and Brussels, and there is no guarantee that we can hold confidential dialogue with them and agree on extending the Turkish Stream pipeline,” Igor Yushkov said.
“Two directions are possible through Greece: to the south of Italy (although gas consumption is low there and the Southern Gas Corridor is being built for this purpose) or to Serbia, from there through Hungary to Austria, but bypassing Bulgaria. I think the main battle for the Turkish Stream second line will begin after the construction of the Nord Stream 2. Unlike in the situation with the Nord Stream 2, it will be necessary to fight not with powerful Germany, but with very weak and independent South European countries. It will be much easier to disrupt this project,” the analyst stressed.