Greek diplomats stationed in other Balkans countries are keeping a close watch on local energy-sector developments and their implications, positive and negative, for Greece’s aim of becoming a regional energy hub.
Most recently, Greek diplomats informed Athens of a change of guard at ICGB, the consortium behind the development and management of the prospective IGB (Greek-Bulgarian Interconnector) pipeline project. Teodora Georgieva was replaced by new CEO Valentin Haralambiev, who possesses extensive experience in gas-sector infrastructure projects and is expected to speed up the IGB project.
An objective has been set for this pipeline interconnection project to begin operating by early 2020.
Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) holds a 50 percent stake in the consortium, also including DEPA, Greece’s Public Gas Corporation, and Italy’s Edison.
BEH issued a statement noting that the natural gas interconnection with Greece represents a “significant priority for the Bulgarian government’s energy policy.”
According to the Greek Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria’s interim energy minister Nikolay Pavlov, speaking to an audience of European energy authorities at last month’s 3rd Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council, held in Baku, noted that his country’s government is working intensively so that construction of the project’s segment concerning Bulgaria may begin early in 2018.
The Southern Gas Corridor is a Brussels initiative promoting natural gas supply from Caspian and Middle Eastern regions to Europe, the aim being to reduce Europe’s dependency on Russian gas.
Greek diplomats have also been drawn to energy developments in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Fyrom).
Reporting on a recent roundtable discussion organized by Fyrom’s Chamber of Commerce on supply security concerning petroleum and other products, the Greek Embassy informed that participants agreed Thessaloniki port and Corridor X – a route linking the cities Thessaloniki, Skopje, Belgrade, Zagreb and Budapest – represent the most advantageous and safest passage for Fyrom’s trading and economic interests. The head of OKTA, an ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) subsidiary, was among this session’s participants.