Greek Stream not feasible, US envoy tells energy minister

Update: The US does not seem particularly perturbed by the warming Greek-Russian ties on energy matters, judging by remarks offered today by the Department of State’s Acting Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs, Amos Hochstein, following his meeting in Athens with Production Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis.

Hochstein stated that Washington US restricts its discussions to realistic energy plans, while noting the US considers Greek Stream, the local segment of Turkish Stream, Russia’s latest natural gas pipeline proposal for supply to Europe from the south, via the Greek-Turkish border area, as not feasible, despite Moscow’s recent attempt to promote the prospect.

Hochtsein also told reporters that the number of issues he and Lafazanis agreed on outnumbered those where differences exist.

“We will continue to find ways to collaborate on these matters to Greece’s benefit,” Hochstein said, while highlighting that this was not the first time the two officials had met.

In his remarks following the meeting, Lafazanis reiterated Greece’s intention to establish itself as a “pluralistic energy hub in the region,” adding that “we’re interested in a multi-dimensional, independent energy policy to be exclusively determined by national interest, cooperation, and energy security for the region and Europe.”

Lafazanis added that Greece supports the crossing of a natural gas pipeline to reach the Greek-Turkish border region as it would benefit the nation and its people.

The energy minister described his meeting with Hochstein, the US envoy, as one of substance, honest, and useful for the country’s energy-matter prospects.

Ministry officials noted that no US counterproposals to Turkish Stream were offered during the meeting.

Earlier today, energypress reported:

Greece’s intention to support Turkish Stream and the local segment – dubbed Greek Stream – of Russia’s latest natural gas pipeline project proposal for supply to Europe from the south, via the Greek-Turkish border area, will undoubtedly be the key topic of a meeting today between Production Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis and the US Department of State’s Acting Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs, Amos Hochstein.

Judging by a telephone discussion yesterday between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as comments by energy ministry officials to energypress, Greece will not retreat from its position on Turkish Stream despite US opposition expected to be voiced by Hochstein.

Seeking to reduce the continent’s heavy dependence on Russian energy, the US, along with the EU, is supporting the region’s TAP (Trans-Adriatic Pipeline) project, to supply Azeri gas to Europe via Greece. As part of its multi-dimensional energy policy, the Greek government is declaring its support for both the TAP and Turkish Stream projects.

Greek initiatives taken for the swift development of the TAP project, as well as the “Vertical Corridor” pipeline project, to link Greece, Bulgaria, and Romania, and connect with TAP, will be presented at today’s meeting, sources said.

Lafazanis alleges that talks for Greece’s involvement in Tukish Stream have reached an advanced stage, while admitting that plenty of work is still needed, as the project’s actualization not only depends on Greece, but also Turkey, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Serbia, and the European Commission. To date, no agreements have been signed for Turkish Stream, still at an embryonic stage.

However, Greece’s position on Turkish Stream was bolstered yesterday by comments from Moscow concerning Russia’s readiness to finance Greek companies, from both the public and private sectors, to take part in the pipeline project’s development.

Just weeks ago, various reports claimed Russia was prepared to offer Greece between three billion and five billion euros as an advance payment for Greece’s future Turkish Stream earnings. The prospect then receded. But talk of an advance payment, which would offer respite for the Greek state’s troubled finances, reemerged during yesterday’s telephone discusson between the Greek and Russian leaders.

Russia’s Turkish Stream plan, whose route would bypass Ukraine, entails supplying the EU approximately 43 billion cubic meters of natural gas, annually.

Russian media reported yesterday that Gazprom and Ankara has reached an agreement for gas supply to Turkey, through Turkish Stream, as of December, 2016. Russian news agency Ria Novosti reported that the pipeline’s Greek segment could be constructed by a Russian-European consortium, estimating the segment’s budget at two billion euros.