‘Turkish Stream’ supported if in line with EU law, minister says

Greece will support a Russian energy investment plan concerning “Turkish Stream”, a natural gas pipeline plan that would transmit Russian gas to Europe via Turkey, Greece – it is dubbed “Greek Stream” for its Greek segment – and Italy, as long as the plan complies with EU law, energy minister Giorgos Stathakis appears to have told his Russian counterpart, Alexander Novak, at a meeting on the sidelines of Russian Energy Week 2017, an ongoing conference in Moscow and St Petersburg.

Acknowledging the Russian project’s significance, Stathakis discussed its next steps with Novak and relayed the Greek government’s support through the development and incorporation of IGI Poseidon pipeline, an older plan envisaged to transport Russian natural gas from Greece to southern Italy via a submarine Adriatic Sea crossing. IGI Poseidon is fully licensed for development.

The Greek energy minister reportedly underlined that, ultimately, it would be up to Brussels to decide on whether the pipeline plan can proceed.



Russian FM to to focus on Turkish Stream during Athens visit

Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov is scheduled to be in Athens this Wednseday to deliver a speech at an energy conference being held within the framework of the 4th Greek-Russian Social Forum, which, in turn, is part of the wider “2016 – Year of Greek-Russian Friendship” series of events.

The energy ties between Greece and Russia will be at the core of the Russian diplomat’s visit. The energy association between the two countries was established nearly 25 years ago with the development of the natural gas pipeline linking Burgas, on Bulgaria’s Black Sea Coast, with Alexandroupoli, northeast Greece.

More recently, Greece and Russia have discussed development of the South Stream and Turkish Stream pipelines, but neither plan has yet to make progress.

Greece’s energy minister Panos Skourletis, foreign minister Nikos Kotzias, as well as Russia’s deputy energy minister Yanovsky Anatoly, will also deliver speeches at Wednesday’s conference.

The restablishment of diplomatic ties beween Russia and Turkey has rekindled hopes for the Turkish Stream plan, which, if developed, would run from the Greek-Turkish border, through northern Greece, and across the Adriatic Sea to Italy.

Lavrov, who is seeking to put the ball in the court of the European Commission for the project’s endorsement, is expected to seek support from Athens for Turkish Stream’s development. Brussels has remained hesitant.

Turkish Stream, along with the TAP project now in progress as well as plans for the development of LNG facilities promise to elevate Greece’s energy role in the wider region.

Gazprom’s CEO Alexey Miller, seeking to put the spotlight on Brussels, announced today that Turkish Stream’s pipelines, reaching all the way to Turkey, will be ready by the end of 2019.


‘Turkish Stream’ plan rekindled, expectations remain low

Moscow is seeking to revive as swiftly as possible an agreement reached with Greece for Turkish Stream – Russia’s pipeline crossing proposal through the Black Sea to the Greek-Turkish border, an initiative stalled by the Russian-Turkish political crisis – meetings by Greece’s leadership with Russian officials in Thessaloniki on Saturday indicated.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Energy Minister Panos Skourletis held respective meetings with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich and Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak.

At these meetings, the two sides reiterated that if Turkish Stream – dubbed Greek Stream for its local segment – makes progress, mixed consortiums would be formed, most probably with DEPA, the Public Gas Corporation, included, as had been agreed to in 2015, when the Turkish Stream pipeline proposal was first tabled for discussion.

Bypassing Kiev, and punishing Sofia for having obstructed the construction of scrapped South Stream, the new Turkish Stream pipeline is planned to travel across the Black Sea to the Turkish city of Ipsila, close to the Greek-Turkish border, before a Greek segment runs across Greece’s north to the Adriatic Sea.

Though Greek government officials confirmed that Turkish Stream and its extension through Greece to Italy is a plan on the table, they admitted the chances of it being developed in the near future are minimal. However, Greek officials acknowledged that the recent restablishment of bilateral Russian-Turkish ties does provide some prospects for the project.

Ankara has once again declared a strong interest in the project’s development. It is believed that Gazprom has already been issued initial licenses.

Tsipras, speaking at the Thessaloniki International Fair over the weekend, may have reiterated Greece’s interest in becoming an energy hub of multidimensional energy policies, but it has become clear over the past year, especially since the launch of work on the TAP project last May, that the country’s energy interests are pointed towards the west.

The TAP pipeline, to cross northern Greece as part of the route carrying Azeri natural gas to Europe, via Italy, as well as the prospective IGB Greek-Bulgarian Interconnector, are two key projects being supported by the west, which wants to diversify Europe’s energy sources.

The Turkish Stream proposal reemerged in August when Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave the project the green light.


Revised ‘Greek Stream’ plan to be sought within 2016

Officials at Gazprom, Edison, and DEPA, Greece’s Public Gas Corporation have told energypress that they are now preparing a second step towards reviving the “Greek Stream” project – intended to supply Russian natural gas to Europe via the south – following last week’s signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the development of the stalled ITGI natural gas pipeline to link Greece and Italy and serve as a route for Russian gas supply to Europe through the Southern Corridor.

As part of the plan’s second stage, the officials will seek to determine a route passing through Bulgaria for the “Greek Stream” project.

Authorities closely involved with the project have noted that much will depend on how Russian-Turkish bilateral ties play out. Bulgarian territory is now being considered as an alternative for the Russian gas pipeline’s route as a result of the troubled ties between Russia and Turkey. Should these two countries resolve their differences, the Bulgarian alternative could be abandoned, but this seems highly unlikely at present.

A date for the next meeting between Gazprom, Edison, and DEPA officials has yet to be set. Technocrats will meet to focus on details such as natural gas quantities to be supplied through the pipeline, cost and financing issues that may ensure the project’s sustainability, as well as the  geographical route. The three companies want to have completed this part of the project’s task by the end of this year.

Besides the technocratic details, work also needs to be carried out at a diplomatic level to secure the European Commission’s backing of the Russian pipeline plan for Europe’s south. Gazprom, Edison, and DEPA officials will seek to secure the EU executive body’s official support for the project by the end of this year. This has already been unofficially granted, it is believed.

The age-old ITGI plan linking Greece and Italy was never carried out but this could now be developed and utilized as part of Russia’s latest plan for natural gas supply to Europe via the south.

Ministers to discuss older matters as ‘Greek Stream’ stalls

Greek Stream, the local segment of Russia’s latest natural gas pipeline proposal for Europe’s southeast, was originally planned to be the main topic of a meeting in Moscow this week between Greece’s energy minister Panos Skourletis and his Russian counterpart Alexander Novak, but last week’s downing of a Russian SU 24 fighter jet by Turkish forces has placed Russia’s thoughts of developing the project on hold.

The prospective natural gas pipeline, unofficially dubbed both Greek Stream and Turkish Stream, has been envisioned to run from the Greek-Turkish border area and across Greece’s north. Thoughts of utilizing ITGI, a pipeline project long endorsed by the European Commission and planned to cross the Adriatic Sea from Greece to Italy, as an extension of the Russian plan, had recently increased the likelihood of Greek Stream being developed through this route rather than a vertical Balkan crossing, until last week’s Turkish attack on the Russian jet. Consequently, Russia’s latest gas pipeline proposal for the region may end up being shelved, just like its previous plan, South Stream.

Russian officials have already announced that the pipeline, as well as development of a Russian-backed nuclear station, will both be stalled in reaction to the Turkish attack.

As a result, Skourletis and Novak are now expected to focus on other matters that primarily concern electricity production, as well as natural gas supply matters that remain unresolved. These subjects were discussed at a recent Greek-Turkish working group in Athens as well as by a Greek-Russian interministerial committee in Sochi last week.

According to sources, Russian companies have already expressed interest in the development of energy projects in Greece, especially in the field of electricity production. Russian companies, interested in constructing new power stations and revamping exisiting facilities, have asked to be updated on tenders to be staged.

‘Greek Stream’ has political support, Russian deputy says

Russia’s latest proposal for a natural gas pipeline in southeast Europe, being refered to as both “Turkish Stream” and “Greek Stream” and envisioned to run from the Greek-Turkish border across northern Greece all the way to the country’s northwest, was extensively discussed last Friday in Athens during an official visit by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, while it was agreed for Greece’s energy minister Panos Skourletis to soon visit Moscow for further talks, Russian media has reported.

The visit by Dvorkovich preceded a Joint Ministerial Committee between Greece and Russia to be held in Sochi today and tomorrow.

Besides his talks with the Greek Prime Minister, the Russian deputy head also held talks with a series of other leading local officials, including Skourletis, Agricultural Development Minister Evangelos Apostolou, and TAIPED (State Privatization Fund) president Stergios Pitsiorlas, paving the way for negotiations between the two countries.

Dvorkovich told Russian daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta that it was agreed, last Friday in Athens, by both sides to “intensify the work of the Joint Ministerial Committee with the aim of finding practical solutions to exisiting problems in the fields of energy, transport, and agriculture,” while adding that Gazprom and Russian Railways will be involved.

The Russian deputy also said he requested additional information on Greek privatization tenders, adding this front would be further processed at the Joint Ministerial Committee, today and tomorrow.

Commenting on the prospects of developing “Turkish Stream” through Greek territory, Dvorkovich said the matter was discussed with the Greek Prime Minister and has political support.

According to Russian news agency Ria Novosti, Skourletis, Greece’s energy minister, will visit Moscow within the next few days for further talks with his Russian counterpart Alexander Novak.