‘Greek Stream’ talks increase propects of stalled ITGI project

The Greek government’s intention to bolster the country’s geopolitical role, as highlighted by its repeated declarations for a multi-dimensional energy policy, raises the prospect of the stalled ITGI natural gas pipeline being developed.

The ITGI project was planned to carry Azeri natural gas from Turkey to Italy via Greece, through a submarine Adriatic crossing, from Igoumenitsa, in Greece’s northwest, to the Italian east coast. But it was stalled after Azerbaijan opted for the TAP (Trans-Adriatic Pipeline) as its prefered choice to serve the Southern Corridor.

However, the ITGI project could prove expedient for Greece’s current natural gas pipeline aspirations, Poseidon, the DEPA (Public Gas Corporation)-Edison partnership backing the project, is highlighting. Both DEPA and Edison have informed the Greek government that they are still interested in developing the ITGI project.

Recent talks in Moscow by both the Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Production Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis for “Greek Stream”, the Greek Segment of “Turkish Stream”, Russia’s latest proposal for natural gas supply to Europe via the Greek-Turkish border region, could incorporate ITGI into the plan.

One advantage offered by such a choice is that procedures would be swiftened, while preliminary work already conducted for ITGI, as well as amounts already spent, would be utilized. Despite being stalled, the ITGI plan is still classified as a Project of Common Interest (PCI) by the European Union, meaning priority funding would be available.

Another advantage is that the ITGI plan, which would include Italian and French corporate involvement, could help soften the European Commission’s opposition to “Turkish Stream”. Italy’s Edison is now under the wings of French company EDF. Italian and French support for ITGI would be useful in Brussels for Turkish Stream’s chances.

Also, French and Italian involvement would bolster the project’s commercial prospects. Pipeline infrastructure development relies on securing customers to absorb the natural gas to be trasmittted before any talk of infrastructure development can be considered feasible.

Any route revisions would not prompt Russian objections. The key objective, for both the Russian and Greek governments, is to develop a new Russian supply pipeline to Europe from the south.