The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Fyrom) has turned to Albania to cover its natural gas needs as a result of Greece’s failure to deliver on an agreement reached between the country’s gas grid operator DESFA and MER Skopje two years ago for the development of a pipeline interconnection linking the gas grids of the neighboring countries.
Local licensing procedure delays have been cited as a key reason behind Greece’s lack of action. RAE, Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy, has yet to offer its approval for the project. Also, the matter has been further complicated by an initiative from Russian entrepreneur Leonid Lebedev’s Windows International Hellas for a license to construct a natural gas pipeline from Thessaloniki to Fyrom.
Last week, Albagaz and MER Skopje signed a Memorandum of Understanding, intended to promote a gas grid interconnection plan linking Fyrom and Albania, at a ceremony in Tirana that was attended by ministers of both countries.
The bilateral pipeline plan entails branching off gas quantities from the TAP line – running through Albania and northern Greece – into the Fyrom market. Though a Fyrom-Albania investment plan is still a long way off, both sides have agreed to seek financing through EU funds.
Pundits and investors in Greece have warned that the country now stands a big chance of missing out on a major opportunity to supply gas to the Fyrom market.