Alexandroupoli FSRU on track for early-2024 launch

Development of the Alexandroupoli FSRU at the country’s northeastern port is progressing steadily and set for an on-schedule launch by the end of January, 2024, energypress sources have informed.

Tanker conversion work being conducted for the FSRU at Singapore’s Keppel Shipyard was 87.1 percent ready at the end of August, meaning all basic equipment, including burners and gasifiers, has been installed, the sources added.

Representatives of Gastrade, the consortium established by the Copelouzos group for the development and operation of the Alexandroupoli FSRU, visited the Keppel Shipyard just days ago.  The consortium’s chief executive, Kostis Sifneos, headed the visiting group.

The consortium’s members – the Copelouzos group’s Elmina Copelouzou, Gaslog Cyprus Investments Ltd, DEPA Commercial, Bulgartransgaz and Greek gas grid operator DESFA, all holding 20 percent shares – plan to soon hold a meeting to discuss the project’s steps leading to its launch, the sources added.

The FSRU vessel is expected to be ready to set sail for Alexandroupoli in mid-November, before reaching its destination in early December.

The Alexandroupoli FSRU, to offer a 153,500-m3 LNG capacity, will be connected to Greece’s gas network via a 28-km pipeline, through which gasified LNG will be distributed to the domestic market, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, North Macedonia, Hungary, Moldova and Ukraine.

The project will serve as a new energy gateway promising to play a key role in the energy security and independence of Greece as well as central and southeast Europe.

PPC chief to take part in Romanian Three Seas meeting

Greece aims to bolster its geopolitical influence in the Balkans through energy, power utility PPC’s takeover of Italian group ENEL’s Romanian subsidiary ENEL Romania being a key part of this strategy.

In addition to PPC’s takeover of ENEL Romania, Helleniq Energy recently invested in Romania and had been preceded by Mytilineos – both in renewable energy projects.

PPC’s ENEL Romania takeover has prompted an announcement from Romanian president Klaus Iohannis, who named Greece as a new member of The Three Seas, a diplomatic initiative taken by Romania’s political leadership to bring together EU member states and candidates located between the Baltic, Adriatic and Black Seas for collaboration in the fields of energy, infrastructure and the digital economy.

Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine are the other members of The Three Seas initiative.

Iohannis, Romania’s president, will host a two-day meeting in Bucharest on September 6 and 7 for talks on collaboration in these domains. Ministers and entrepreneurs representing the aforementioned countries, including PPC’s chief executive officer Giorgos Stassis, energypress sources have informed, will take part at the upcoming Bucharest meeting.

Romania has become a geopolitical focal point as a result of the country’s close proximity to war-entangled Ukraine. In addition, Bucharest has established a pivotal role as a result of its support of Ukraine in the war with Russia and Moldova’s EU membership quest. Romania has also facilitated the movement of grain across its borders.

Alexandroupoli FSRU pipeline work in progress, tanker to arrive November

Development work for the Alexandroupoli FSRU at the country’s northeastern port is in full progress on all fronts, in preparation for the project’s launch early next year.

Besides the project’s floating LNG storage and regasification infrastructure, work is also in progress on the offshore and onshore pipelines to transmit gas to the national grid and, from there, the Greek-Bulgarian IGB pipeline connection for gas quantities to the Balkans.

Officials at Gastrade, the consortium established by the Copelouzos group for the development and operation of the Alexandroupoli FSRU, offered an on-site presentation of the FSRU’s work in progress to visiting ambassadors. This mission was organized by George Tsounis, the US ambassador to Greece, and included the ambassadors of Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova and Ukraine.

The FSRU’s subsea pipelines, to measure 24 km, and overland pipelines, measuring a further 4 km, have been delivered to the Alexandroupoli port for installation.

The Alexandroupoli FSRU promises to serve as an additional source of gas supply for Greece and other Balkan countries. Quantities will be transmitted through the IGB for delivery to Bulgaria and, by extension, Romania.

The project’s specially equipped floating tanker is expected to arrive at its Alexandroupoli location in late November, while the FSRU facility should start operating early in 2024.

Gastrade has already been granted a further license for an additional FSRU, intended to serve Moldova and Ukraine, if the results of a related market test indicate that such an additional project would be viable.

It remains unknown when Gastrade could make an investment decision on this additional FSRU.


DEPA Commercial, Moldova’s Energocom nearing gas deal

Greek gas company DEPA Commercial is close to establishing a gas supply deal with Moldovan state gas and electricity supplier Energocom, sources have informed, noting the two sides are currently discussing gas quantities and prices for what could be a long-term agreement.

Both Energocom and Moldova, as a whole, are looking for alternative energy sources as the Balkan country, neighboring Ukraine, seeks to end its reliance on Russian fossil fuels.

Kostas Xifaras, chief executive at DEPA Commercial and Energom’s general director Victor Binzari have held talks as part of an official visit to Athens by the leadership of Moldova’s energy ministry.

Greek energy minister Kostas Skrekas, who met with his Moldovan counterpart, Victor Parlikov, during this visit, released an announcement about the prospective supply deal.

DEPA Commercial gas quantities would reach Moldova through an eastern corridor, or network of gas pipeline interconnections linking Greece with Bulgaria (IGB), Bulgaria with Romania, and Romania with Moldova.

DEPA Commercial is also looking to broaden its gas trading activities with other Balkan countries ahead of the arrival of the Alexandroupoli FSRU, a floating LNG terminal now being developed in Greece’s northeast.

DEPA Commercial is a member of the five-member Gastrade consortium established by the Copelouzos group for the development and operation of the Alexandroupoli FSRU.

Alexandroupoli infrastructure offering regional gas-hub potential

Gas infrastructure being planned and developed at Alexandroupoli, on the edge of northeastern Greece, offers potential to establish this provincial city as a regional gas hub in southeast Europe that will facilitate gas trade and shape regional gas prices.

Gas quantities of between 20 and 30 bcm are expected to be attracted to the region by FSRUs, gas pipelines and a vertical pipeline corridor, covering the wider region.

However, the effort to establish a gas hub in this specific region faces many challenges. Besides bringing in large gas quantities and offering competitive prices as well as high liquidity, all needed to lure players from other hubs and neighboring markets, the region also requires a major reinforcement of the transport system, along with a significant increase in the capacity of the recently launched Greek-Bulgarian IGB gas pipeline.

The absence of a gas hub in southeast Europe and the prospective accumulation of quantities up to 30 bcm in Alexandroupoli offers great potential for the provincial Greek city, as was pointed out by a leading energy ministry official during last weekend’s launch of a new power station in the area.

Attracting significant gas quantities to the location is a first step. It must be followed up by the establishment of a gas spot market in Greece, one capable of increasing interconnectivity in the southeast European market.

Greece promises to serve as an entry point for the aforementioned natural gas vertical corridor, to run through Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Ukraine and Moldova.

This project, to utilize existing infrastructure combined with new infrastructure, will incorporate the Trans Balkan Pipeline, which transported Russian gas to southeast Europe via Ukraine for thirty years and is now set to operate with gas flow in the opposite direction.

Copelouzos: Alexandroupoli FSRU to transport gas to Ukraine

Gastrade, the consortium established by the Copelouzos group for the development and operation of the Alexandroupoli FSRU, a floating LNG terminal now being developed in Greece’s northeast, will also install an additional FSRU unit at the location, the group’s chief, Dimitris Copelouzos has asserted in comments to media, noting the facility will be capable of transporting natural gas to Ukraine.

According to sources, the Copelouzos group has already held preliminary talks with officials of the embattled country on the prospect of natural gas supply from Greece’s northeast.

A second Alexandroupoli FSRU is expected to be completed in 2025, as an addition to the first terminal at the location, now nearing completion.

The Copelouzos group chief, asked by journalists on the route to be used for transporting natural gas to Ukraine, responded: “Via the pipeline that is now empty,” a reference to the Trans Balkan Pipeline, which transported Russian gas to Greece through the Sidirokastro entry point in the country’s northeast until early 2020.

This route was replaced by Turk Stream in early 2020 so that Ukraine could be bypassed.

The Trans Balkan Pipeline runs from Russia, crossing Ukraine, Moldova and Bulgaria, before branching out to Greece and Turkey.

Investments, including compressor stations in Bulgaria, will be needed to fully utilize the capacity offered by the Trans Balkan Pipeline, sources pointed out.