Greece Pivotal to Plans for Natural Gas Pipeline

A strategy by successive governments to turn Greece into an energy hub is moving into form with the promotion of a series of investment plans focusing on the country. The TAP (Trans Atlantic Pipeline), IGB (Greek-Bulgarian pipeline), East Med (Israel-Cyprus-Greece), South European Pipeline (transporting Russian natural gas) and IGI (Greece-Italy) projects, currently in different stages of maturity, are gradually changing the energy map of Greece, the Balkans and Europe.

The most advanced project, scheduled to begin operations in 2020, is the TAP pipeline. Environment and Energy Minister Panos Skourletis recently said that TAP will be the first section of a pipeline system, built from Azerbaijan to Italy, to be ready for operation. The TAP project (bringing together as shareholders Socar, Snam, BP, Fluxys, Enagas and Axpo) opens to the so-called South corridor of natural gas, a 4,000 km corridor with an estimated investment of more than 20 billion euros, of which 550 km passes through Greece with an estimated investment of 1.5 billion. Construction works began in May and transport capacity will be 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually — at an initial stage — with the prospect of doubling this capacity in the future.

The Greek-Bulgarian pipeline project IGB (Komotini-Stara Zagora) is at the final stages before the beginning of construction works. Despite is limited size (compared with other plans) it is considered to be of strategic significance. It has a length of 180 km with an initial transport capacity of 3.0 billion cubic meters annually and with the prospect of raising this capacity to 5.0 billion. Its strategic importance is the fact that it will be the first link for the so-called vertical corridor to the North, after Bulgaria, to Romania, Hungary, Ukraine and Poland, linking IGB to TAP, supplying also LNG through the Revithousa facility and a new LNG terminal in Alexandroupoli. The project is developed by ICGB, 50-50 percent owned by Poseidon (DEPA and Edison) and Bulgarian Energy Holding.

The East Med ambitious project was discussed during a ministerial meeting between Greece, Cyprus and Israel last week in Athens. The three ministers will meet again in December. The pipeline is planned to transport natural gas from Eastern Mediterranean fields (Cyprus, Israel) to Europe via Cyprus, Crete and central Greece. The first studies — to be presented to interested parties in October 26 in Athens — show that the project is technically feasible and financially competitive. The pipeline will have a length of 1,900 km (600 km land and 1,300 sub-seas) with a transport capacity of 10 billion cubic meters annually and the prospect of raising its capacity in the future. According to estimates, natural gas exports from Eastern Mediterranean fields will total 10 billion cubic meters annually after 2022. The project is considered of strategic importance for the energy security of the European Union.

The Greece-Italy pipeline will have a length of 207 km, linking Thesprotia with Otranto and will have a transport capacity of 12 billion cubic meters annually. It is the end section of Greek-Italian pipeline ITGI designed to transport natural gas from Azerbaijan to Europe.

Finally, for the South European Pipeline project, DEPA signed in February an initial agreement with Gazprom to promote the project, designed to transport Russian natural gas to Europe under European legislation. The pipeline is the development of older Russian plans for South Stream and Turkish Stream.


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