Deputy chief of mission of the US Embassy in Athens Kate Byrnes termed the start of construction for the vertical corridor of the IGB pipeline linking Greece with Bulgaria “a very positive development for Greece and for the region,” in statements to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA).
Speaking to ANA on the sidelines of the IGB inauguration ceremony on Wednesday in Kirkovo, Bulgaria the American diplomat said that the US consider “the construction of the IGB as a very important development for Greece, for the region, and in terms of opening up the entire region to diversification (of the energy sources), something that the US has been looking forward to for a long time.”
The full interview to ANA follows:
How does the U.S. see the construction of the IGB?
We see the construction of the IGB as a very positive development for Greece, for the region, and in terms of opening up the entire region to diversification, this is something that the United States has been looking forward to for a long time, supportive of the project, going back again most recently to the Prime Minister’s visit to Washington and remarks in the Rose Garden, and again it’s very much a part of how we see the U.S.-Greece strategic relationship developing.
How do you see the prospect of the IGB connecting with the LNG platform in Alexandroupoli?
We think that in the same way that the TAP is now connecting horizontally across the region, the IGB offers that vertical solution, helping to bring resources from Alexandroupoli up to Bulgaria and perhaps further into the region, which would be the great hope, and it also opens up new opportunities for sources, putting, as we hope, LNG into Alexandroupoli on a more regular basis.
Now that Greece has turned the corner, do you see any prospects of deepening the relations between U.S. and Greece in the energy sector?
We see that as very much an important part of developing the relationship. Over the past year, we’ve done a lot to bring U.S. officials out here on a regular basis to look at the opportunities in the energy sector. Even more so, bringing private sector interest in. Our support and participation in the Thessaloniki International Fair was very much intended to look at energy in this part of the world. And as we proceed with the Strategic Dialogue, we’ve developed a specific part of the agenda that is focused on energy security and ways that we can work together on energy cooperation.
And last but not least, do you see any prospects of American companies investing in this part of Greece, in the energy sector?
Well, that’s obviously an American company decision. They’ll look at the market, and they’ll see. But the fact that we’ve brought so much attention, that this infrastructure is developing, this is going be a very positive signal to the companies that the infrastructure is here, the governments are committed, and everybody’s looking at this region in a new light, that should also provide a positive incentive for American companies.