ATHENS – Greeks are depending on state aid to pay most of their soaring electric bills and there’s worries about gas and oil supplies in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but Greece is now a hub for exporting Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.
Speaking at an international conference on Liquefied Natural Gas held in the capital he said that, “the crisis is changing the energy map of Europe and Greece is at the forefront of this change.”
The New Democracy government is trying to wean off reliance on Russian supplies that bring in 40 percent of the needs and is looking to rapidly move to sustainable and green options but having to turn back to coal-fired plants to produce electricity in the short term.
LNG is a key alternative and he said that new infrastructures in Greece, particularly at the northern port of Alexandroupolis, mean it can be exported to other countries as well.
A new gas tank on Revythoussa, on an islet in the Gulf of Megara west of Athens, has increased its capacity by 65 percent and Alexandroupolis will get a new LGN station early in 2024, said the state’s Athens-Macedonia News Agency ANA-MPA.
Greece can also rely on the TAP pipeline that transports natural gas from Azerbaijan to Europe via Greece and the Greek-Bulgarian natural gas pipeline that was inaugurated in October, and the prospect of building a supply line to North Macedonia too.
“In a few years we may have two, three, or even four floating LNG stations. We want to help our neighbors to diversify their energy supplies and to improve the stability associated with energy security,” he stated.
He said that the European Union should follow Greece’s lead to hunt for more hydrocarbons – which continue reliance on them – while also trying to find alternatives that are sustainable, such as solar and wind power.
“We need innovative solutions to ensure energy security now, without undermining the path to decarbonization,” he said, although analysts have indicated it will likely take years.
The government’s strategy to turn Greece into a natural gas and green energy export hub was presented by Environment and Energy Minister Kostas Skrekas at the event, the report also added.
Skrekas underlined that exports of natural gas have already reached 2.5 billion cubic meters, up from 0.7 cubic meters last year, while the possibilities have multiplied with the addition of a new floating storage tank in Revythoussa.
“The capacity of Greece’s LNG terminals can reach 20 billion cubic meters every year for the next two years” the minister said, noting that the interconnection with Bulgaria may extend the LNG supply via Greece to Moldova and Ukraine.
“The aim is for the dependence on one single supplier to decrease,” Skrekas said, noting the need for a joint EU supply platform that will raise the bloc’s overall negotiating power, as well as long term contracts for the stabilization of the market.
In statements on the sidelines Skrekas also re-introduced a proposal for the establishment of a central mechanism for the economic support of the member-states and of citizens and enterprises in the EU.
“European industry loses competitiveness, many companies reduce their production or shut down and we have many losses of jobs,” Skrekas said.
He clarified that the proposal for a cap on natural gas rates to ensure lower prices in natural gas and electricity remains on the table. “We will not rest until we succeed in getting it,” Skrekas also said.