Two infrastructure projects categorized by the European Commission as projects of common interest (PCIs), namely the IGB pipeline, to provide a direct link between the national natural gas systems of Greece and Bulgaria, and a floating LNG station (FSRU) in northern Greece, were among the topics discussed during a meeting between Greece’s Environment, Energy & Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis and Bulgaria’s Economy and Energy Minister Vassil Shtonov.
The two ministers, who were accompanied by a host of other officials representing both countries, agreed to adopt a common action plan that would include joint electricity interests, as well as reverse-flow transmission of natural gas from Greece to Bulgaria through existing pipelines.
During the meeting, Maniatis analyzed a proposal he recently forwarded to the European Commissioner for Energy, Mr. Günther Hermann Oettinger, as well as the current president of the EU Energy Ministers’ Council, Claudio De Vincenti, calling for the need to establish a European mechanism that could deal with an energy crisis in the event of a natural gas supply stoppage by Russia via Ukraine.
Maniatis also referred to the need for centralized coordination of the LNG market at an EU level, which, in the event of an energy crisis, would facilitate supply by EU member states possessing surplus energy amounts to fellow EU states faced with shortages.
The Bulgarian minister, Shtonov, said his country fully backed the Greek proposal, and also called for wider coordination by the two neighboring countries with regard to their energy-sector policies at an EU level.
The two men described the IGB pipeline as being a project of strategic importance for the wider region, and agreed on further steps, both technical and political, which would need to be taken for the project to be completed.
Both ministers underlined that the IGB pipeline and LNG station (FSRU) station in northern Greece would greatly contribute to the diversification of natural gas sources, the energy security of both countries, and also assure more competitive prices.