Italy persisting with Poseidon plan despite US objections

Despite US concerns, Italy, citing the support of Brussels, is persisting with a plan aiming for the development of the IGI Poseidon pipeline, an older plan envisaged to transport Russian natural gas through Greece to southern Italy via a submarine Adriatic Sea crossing. This project would also incorporate Greek Stream, a pipeline option planned to run from the Greek-Turkish border. It is also referred to as Turkish Stream for its Turkish segment.

Highlighting Italy’s interest, the IGI Poseidon pipeline was included in a Greek-Italian declaration of cooperation signed yesterday between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni at a meeting on Corfu.

Italy, which has reached a series of agreements in recent times in support of the Poseidon pipeline – beginning with a memorandum of understanding signed in March between Eni and Gazprom for Russian gas supply via the Southern Corridor – contends that the project will not increase Russian gas supply to Europe. The objective, Italian officials support, is to relocate the delivery point of Russian natural gas from Italy’s north, via Austria, to the country’s south, seen as a lower-cost route.

The US may not favor this Russia-linked option but Italian officials are adamant as they believe that the TAP pipeline – currently being constructed to transport natural gas from the giant Shah Deniz II field in Azerbaijan to Europe via Greece’s north, Albania and across the Adriatic Sea to Italy – cannot satisfy Italy’s energy needs, both in terms of quantity and cost. In addition, the submarine IGI Poseidon plan is already fully licensed from the past.

Just days ago, the US Ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey R. Pyatt, speaking at a conference in Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece, criticized Russia for increased meddling in the Balkans. The US is increasingly viewing Greece as crucial in its effort to counter Moscow’s dominance in southeast Europe.