Greece is in a race to reduce energy dependence on Russia following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Tuesday.
Speaking in Parliament Mitsotakis said: “We cannot rule out attempts by Russia to blackmail. We all realize this… will disrupt global supplies and probably trigger a further rise in (energy) prices.”
As Greece imported 33% of its gas supplies from Russia in January, Athens called on the EU to support member-states and businesses against a further rise in energy costs.
Mitsotakis assured Parliament, saying that his government is prepared for a “worst-case scenario where gas supplies from Russia are halted” as its liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage facility at Revythousa near Athens has been recently replenished.
“We are strengthening the diversification of our resources. In January, Greece covered 47% of domestic demand with LNG from Revythousa and 20% through the TAP pipeline,” Mitsotakis revealed.
The Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) is part of the Southern Gas Corridor, transporting natural gas to Europe from the Shah Deniz II field in Azerbaijan. Connecting with the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline at the Greek-Turkish border, TAP crosses Northern Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea before coming ashore in Southern Italy to connect to the Italian natural gas network.
Greece to construct second LNG station to boost energy independence
“Russian gas, which over time was the largest percentage of the natural gas mixture imported by the country, fell to 33% for the first time”, the prime minister noted and announced that Greece will construct a second LNG station at Alexandroupolis.
The LNG terminal project at Alexandroupoli is near to the closing of the investment decision. Budgeted at 363.7 million euros, the project consists of a floating platform for the reception, temporary storage and gasification of LNG, and an underwater and land pipeline for the fuel to reach the national transmission system.
Mitsotakis gave a clearer statement of the need to accelerate Greece’s independence from Russian gas: “In the long run, however, the only answer to the energy security of both the country and Europe is the rapid detachment from Russian natural gas, but also from hydrocarbons in general.
“Both for the protection of the environment and the response to climate change, but – now it is obvious – as well as for geopolitical reasons.”
The Prime Minister also described the ultimate goal: “The goal of the government is to become an energy-autonomous and competitive country, utilizing first and foremost the rich wind and solar potential of our country, but at the same time to become a hub of energy interconnection and green transport throughout the southeastern Mediterranean.”
Nuclear energy from Bulgaria?
It has also emerged that Greece is in talks with Bulgaria on building a new nuclear power plant on Bulgarian territory to also be used by Greece in order to cover part of its energy needs.
Bulgaria’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Asen Vassilev, announced on Sunday that talks have begun to sign a long-term 20-year contract with Greece.
A Bulgarian ministerial delegation visited Athens last week to discuss the project. Romania also plans to build a new nuclear plant.
The talks between Athens and Sofia come as Greece and the rest of Europe face an energy crisis that many fear may spiral out of control after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Greece on Monday proposed setting up a European Union fund to provide low-interest loans to help governments finance measures to tackle high energy prices, as EU energy ministers discussed preparations for potential energy supply shocks and measures to shore up gas stocks following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.