The EU’s Just Transition Fund, takings its cue from the European Investment Bank, has left natural gas projects of its funding list, noting it will not provide financial support for any investments concerning production, processing, distribution, storage or consumption of fossil fuels.
This exclusion creates issues for all the country’s natural gas projects, big or small, which authorities would have wanted to be supported by the Just Transition Fund.
They include a power utility PPC plan for a combined gas-fueled cooling, heat and power plant in Kardia, northern Greece, for coverage of the west Macedonia region’s telethermal needs, announced by the energy minister Costis Hatzidakis just days ago.
Other Greek project plans such as the Alexandroupoli FSRU and the development of an underground natural gas storage (UGS) facility at a virtually depleted offshore gas field south of Kavala have already been rejected by the EIB, unless hydrogen is incorporated into their plans to convert them into eco-friendly projects.
Natural gas, emitting approximately half the amount of CO2 produced by coal, also spills out methane, an undesired greenhouse gas.
Climate protection advocates insist new natural gas units could end up operating for decades, which would threaten the EU objective for zero emissions by 2050.
EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, is preparing the ground for exploration work in the country’s north, in the Grevena area, as well as the wider west Macedonia region, through processing of seismic surveys and dialogue with local communities.
EDEY’s head official Yiannis Basias offered an indication of the hydrocarbon management company’s next steps at a recent signing ceremony for offshore licenses in the Ionian Sea and Block 10, off western Peloponnese.
He stressed that onshore areas also need to be explored, indicating Grevena would be one of these. The geological features of the Grevena region represent a continuation of Albanian territory being explored by multinational Shell.
Besides the potential of discovering hydrocarbon reserves, EDEY’s interest in Grevena and the west Macedonia region is also linked to a plan to replace lignite mining activities of the past, gradually winding down as a result of the EU’s decarbonization policies. Lignite deposits contain methane, which could be utilized in the domestic market and encourage entrepreneurial activities for continued regional economic growth and employment.
An older round of offshore licenses offered through a series of tenders staged by EDEY, beginning in 2012 with the Gulf of Patras license, will be completed with competitions for two blocks west and southwest of Crete, launched in 2017.