Petkova to visit for LNG talks during TAP construction launch

As part of the government’s overall effort to push ahead with major natural gas infrastructure projects, Greek energy minister Panos Skourletis, his Bulgarian counterpart Temenuzhka Petkova, and investors linked to the prospective floating LNG station in Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece, are scheduled to meet next week, on May 17, when a ceremony will be held in Thessaloniki to launch construction work for the TAP (Trans Adriatic Pipeline) project’s local segment.

US energy company Cheniere, primarily active in LNG-related businesses, DEPA, the Public Gas Corporation, Bulgargaz, and Gastrade, a member of the Copelouzos corporate group, will be represented by head officials or key representatives at the meeting, to focus on the Alexandroupoli LNG station.

Its fate is directly related to that of the Greek-Bulgarian interconnector (IGB), and vice versa, which is why the Greek energy ministry is seeking to coordinate development of the two projects.

It has become perfectly clear that the IGB interconnector cannot be developed unless its capacity is sufficiently covered when the second stage of a market test is held. Interested parties will need to submit binding offers. Developing the LNG station in Alexandroupoli without an IGB plan would not make any sense.

At present, the prospects for the IGB’s development appear to be positive. Just days ago, ICGB, a 50-50 joint venture – involving Poseidon (DEPA and Edison) and Bulgarian state-run company BEH – that has taken on the IGB project, informed that nine non-binding bids for 5 billion cubic meters were made during the market test’s first round. Not surprisingly, Copelouzos group member Gastrade, behind the investment plan for the Alexandroupoli LNG station, placed the biggest non-binding bid for IGB use, this being 2 billion cubic meters, annually, of 5 billion in total. It is estimated that a minimum usage level of 1.7 billion cubic meters is needed to make the IGB project sustainable.

If Cheniere, DEPA, Bulgargaz, and Gastrade agree to develop the Alexandroupoli LNG station, then the Copelouzos group can be expected to follow up with a binding offer for IGB capacity.

Should progress be made at next week’s meeting for the LNG station, the IGB’s prospects will be propelled, and, subsequently, many of the non-binding bids will be cemented as binding bids in the market test’s second stage.

The IGB project is being heavily supported by the EU and USA, which is keen to supply the wider Balkan region with American LNG. Until now, Russian supply has been dominant in the region.