DEPA, Gazprom, Edison agree on Russian supply to Europe

The head officials of Gazprom, Edison and DEPA, Greece’s public gas corporation, today signeda cooperation agreement envisaging joint efforts aimed at establishing a southern route for Russian gas supplies from Russia to Europe, the three companies announced in a statement.

The document was signed by Alexey Miller, Chairman of the Management Committee of Gazprom, Marc Benayoun, CEO of Edisonand Executive Vice President of EDF forGas and Italy,and Theodoros Kitsakos, CEO of DEPAand Chairman of IGI Poseidon, at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2017 in the presence ofCarlo Calenda, Minister of Economic Development of Italy.

George Tsipras, Secretary General for International Economic Relations at Greece’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs also attended the signing ceremony.

The document envisages joint efforts aimed at establishing a southern route for Russian gas supplies from Russia to Europe, which will run across Turkey and Greece to Italy. The three companies will coordinatethe development andimplementation of the TurkStream projectandof thePoseidon projectfrom the Turkish/Greek border to Italy, in full compliance withrelevantapplicablelegislative framework.In addition, the agreement formalizes the arrangements on expanding cooperation in the field of Russian gas deliveries.

In February, 2016, Gazprom, Edison, and DEPA had signed the Memorandum of Understanding on natural gas deliveries from Russia across the Black Sea and third countries to Greece and from Greece to Italy in order to set up a southern route for Russian gas supplies to Europe.

DEPA, possessing a long presence in Greece’s gas market, constitutes a modern and competitive group of companies with a dynamic presence in the energy sector. It promotes strategic infrastructure in order to supply natural gas at competitive prices from diversified sources and routes with a view to assuming a leading role in the markets of the broader southeast European region.

Edison is a leading Italian and European player in the procurement, production and sale of electricity, provision of energy and environmental services and the E&P sector.

Founded over 130 years ago, Edison has contributed to the country’s electrification and development. Today it operates in Italy, across Europe and in the Mediterranean basin, employing 5,000 people. In the power generation sector, Edison has plants with total capacity of 6.5 GW.

The Poseidon pipeline is an import gas project designed and authorized to connect the Greek and Italian gas systems. The project will be further extended for allowing direct transportation into Italy of gas sources available at the Turkish/Greek borders, substantially contributing to the European energy targets on security of supply.

Bulgarian, Fyrom energy developments monitored

Greek diplomats stationed in other Balkans countries are keeping a close watch on local energy-sector developments and their implications, positive and negative, for Greece’s aim of becoming a regional energy hub.

Most recently, Greek diplomats informed Athens of a change of guard at ICGB, the consortium behind the development and management of the prospective IGB (Greek-Bulgarian Interconnector) pipeline project. Teodora Georgieva was replaced by new CEO Valentin Haralambiev, who possesses extensive experience in gas-sector infrastructure projects and is expected to speed up the IGB project.

An objective has been set for this pipeline interconnection project to begin operating by early 2020.

Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) holds a 50 percent stake in the consortium, also including DEPA, Greece’s Public Gas Corporation, and Italy’s Edison.

BEH issued a statement noting that the natural gas interconnection with Greece represents a “significant priority for the Bulgarian government’s energy policy.”

According to the Greek Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria’s interim energy minister Nikolay Pavlov, speaking to an audience of European energy authorities at last month’s 3rd Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council, held in Baku, noted that his country’s government is working intensively so that construction of the project’s segment concerning Bulgaria may begin early in 2018.

The Southern Gas Corridor is a Brussels initiative promoting natural gas supply from Caspian and Middle Eastern regions to Europe, the aim being to reduce Europe’s dependency on Russian gas.

Greek diplomats have also been drawn to energy developments in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Fyrom).

Reporting on a recent roundtable discussion organized by Fyrom’s Chamber of Commerce on supply security concerning petroleum and other products, the Greek Embassy informed that participants agreed Thessaloniki port and Corridor X – a route linking the cities Thessaloniki, Skopje, Belgrade, Zagreb and Budapest – represent the most advantageous and safest passage for Fyrom’s trading and economic interests. The head of OKTA, an ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) subsidiary, was among this session’s participants.


Energy minister plans series of talks at Southern Gas Corridor meeting

Energy minister Giorgos Stathakis plans to engage in a series of talks with highly ranked European Commission officials, fellow ministers as well as financial institution officials at the 3rd Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council, scheduled to take place this Thursday in Baku.

Besides talks related to the progress of Southern Gas Corridor projects, which include the TAP project to run across northern Greece, the country’s energy minister is also expected to hold discussions, including unofficial, on a wide range of issues, given the event’s long and varied list of participants.

The Southern Gas Corridor is a  Brussels initiative promoting natural gas supply from Caspian and Middle Eastern regions to Europe, the aim being to reduce Europe’s dependency on Russian gas.

Key EU energy policy figures, especially for southeastern Europe, will attend the event in the Azerbaijani capital.

Thursday’s Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council follows two previous one-day sessions, the first in February 2015, and the second in 2016, also in February, where a joint declaration was signed by that event’s twelve participating energy ministers.

Leading Azerbaijani officials, including energy minister Natig Aliyev, counterparts from Georgia and Albania, as well as government officials from Balkan countries, will also take part in this Thursday’s Baku meeting.

In a recent interview with Azerbaijan’s Trend News Agency, Stathakis, Greece’s energy minister, acknowledged that complex geopolitical developments are troubling the government’s plans to establish Greece as a regional energy hub.


Gazprom, Edison, DEPA discuss Southern Corridor gas pipeline plan

Technical matters concerning Russia’s Southern Corridor pipeline project proposal for transmission of natural gas to Europe were discussed at a meeting in Moscow yesterday between the heads of Gazprom, Edison and DEPA, Greece’s Public Power Corporation.

A new memorandum of understanding to provide greater details than a previous MoU signed by the three corporations in Rome last February is being prepared.

Yesterday’s meeting included talks on the optimal route for Russian gas exports to Greece and, by extension, Italy, according to a statement released by Gazprom.

The three sides took into account positions maintained by the European Commission and USA on Russian gas supply to Europe.

At this stage, the main concern of the interested parties is to avoid the mistakes committed for Russia’s previous pipeline proposal, South Stream, which deviated from European Commission regulations.

The sidelined Greek-Italian ITGI Poseidon project, initially planned to carry Azerbaijani natural gas, is expected to be developed and play a key role in the Southern Corridor plan by providing a pipeline link across the Adriatic Sea for the transfer of Russian gas from Greece to Italy. This issue was also on the agenda of yesterday’s talks.

Russian gas exports to Italy rose by 36.5 percent in November compared to the equivalent period last year. Italy is the second-biggest importer of Russian natural gas.

As for a Turkish segment planned to comprise part of the Southern Corridor project, Gazprom signed an agreement, just days ago in Amsterdam, with the Allseas Group, a Swiss-based offshore pipeline installation and subsea construction company for the project’s underwater segment in the east. This section of the pipeline is planned to run from a point close to the Russian city Anapa, on the northern coast of the Black Sea, across the sea, all the way to eastern Thrace, Turkey’s European territory.


Gazprom, Edison, DEPA press on for Southern Corridor plan

After signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Rome last February with the aim of developing the Southern Corridor for Russian natural gas supply to Europe, Russia’s Gazprom, Italy’s Edison and DEPA, Greece’s Public Gas Corporation, are now set to take an additional step in this direction.

Leading officials of the three energy companies are scheduled to meet in Moscow next Tuesday to discuss the overall progress made over the past ten-month period and also sign a new agreement containing even greater commitments than last February’s less specific MoU.

Issues expected to be discussed at the upcoming Moscow meeting include the Southern Corridor’s route, dispatch points for Russian gas within European territory, as well as various alternatives available for infrastructure that needs to be constructed.

Of course, the build-up to next Tuesday’s meeting does not mean that European Commission and US doubts about the Southern Corridor have faded. Both are looking to diversify Europe’s energy sources and lessen Russia’s dominance. Instead, the meeting indicates the determination of Gazprom, Edison and DEPA to coordinate their efforts and assess the project’s obstacles, exacerbated by the bad precedent set by South Stream, a previous Russian gas pipeline plan that ended up sinking as a result of the EU’s negative response.

Gazprom’s CEO Alexey Miller, in recent comments, noted: “We will decide – at the Moscow meeting – on how we will go about working on the project. It concerns the transportation of natural gas via Turkey and the Greek-Turkish border as well as construction of new pipelines on European territory, all the way to southern Italy.”


Addition of Turkey’s Botas to Southern Corridor plan implied

Though not specifically named during yesterday’s Greek-Russian energy conference in Athens, Botas, Turkey’s state-run crude oil and gas company, may join Russia’s Gazprom, DEPA, the Greek Public Gas Corporation, and Italian energy firm Edison as a fourth partner in the Southern Corridor project, an extension of the Turkish Steam plan, to supply Russian natural gas to the wider region.

Other European countries are likely to also express an interest in the project, which would increase the chances of Brussels approving the plan.

DEPA chief executive Theodoros Kitsakos reminded conference participants that a three-party memorandum of understanding (MoU), involving Gazprom, DEPA and Edison, was signed last February. He noted that all studies, including cost studies, have been carried out, while also adding that a “fourth partner is likely to join in” as the Russian gas supply line will probably run through Turkey.

Kitsakos described the project’s plan as fully sustainable and respectful of EU principles. “We hope development begins in 2017 and that the project is completed between 2019 and 2020,” he remarked.

Energy minister Panos Skourletis noted that talks recently resumed on this prospective Russian gas supply channel to Europe, via Greece and Italy. “We believe the plan may serve the EU’s strategic objective of reinforcing energy security and offering competitive pricing,” Skourletis commented. “We consider the Russian government’s stance of wanting to promote the project only when EU regulations have been met, in order for it to proceed without interruption, as a very constructive approach,” he added.

The energy minister said the trio of partners, as a follow-up to February’s MoU, are now looking at solutions concerning source diversification and routes. “This discussion is expected to widen and involve other countries so that the project may represent part of the overall picture concerning European energy supply in the future,” Skourletis noted. “Forecasts indicate that energy needs will increase in Europe. Now is the time to shape the new plans that will effectively meet these future needs.”