After signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Rome last February with the aim of developing the Southern Corridor for Russian natural gas supply to Europe, Russia’s Gazprom, Italy’s Edison and DEPA, Greece’s Public Gas Corporation, are now set to take an additional step in this direction.
Leading officials of the three energy companies are scheduled to meet in Moscow next Tuesday to discuss the overall progress made over the past ten-month period and also sign a new agreement containing even greater commitments than last February’s less specific MoU.
Issues expected to be discussed at the upcoming Moscow meeting include the Southern Corridor’s route, dispatch points for Russian gas within European territory, as well as various alternatives available for infrastructure that needs to be constructed.
Of course, the build-up to next Tuesday’s meeting does not mean that European Commission and US doubts about the Southern Corridor have faded. Both are looking to diversify Europe’s energy sources and lessen Russia’s dominance. Instead, the meeting indicates the determination of Gazprom, Edison and DEPA to coordinate their efforts and assess the project’s obstacles, exacerbated by the bad precedent set by South Stream, a previous Russian gas pipeline plan that ended up sinking as a result of the EU’s negative response.
Gazprom’s CEO Alexey Miller, in recent comments, noted: “We will decide – at the Moscow meeting – on how we will go about working on the project. It concerns the transportation of natural gas via Turkey and the Greek-Turkish border as well as construction of new pipelines on European territory, all the way to southern Italy.”