ATHENS – Still uncertain about the level of supplies this winter from Russia in the fallout over the invasion of Ukraine, Greece’s gas utility DEPA signed a deal with French energy giant TotalEnergies to get more liquefied natural gas (LNG) just in case.
That will last from November, 2022 through March 2023 as Greece has been scrambling to build up inventory in its lone LNG facility and trying to find alternate sources of energy, anxious that Russia may limit supplies.
Russian energy, which provides up to 45 percent of the needs of Greece and the European Union, has been exempted from sanctions over the invasion but President Vladimir Putin has indicated he may curtail the amounts.
Under the deal, TotalEnergies would supply DEPA with two cargoes each month or 10 cargoes, enough for electricity totaling about 10 terrawatt hours (TWh), said a statement from Greece’s Energy and Environment ministry.
It added that the price of the LNG supplies would not be linked to the highly volatile TTF price and that Greece also has the right not to purchase the LNG cargoes but pay a cancellation fee in that case.
The ministry said Greece has reduced Russian pipeline gas supplies to 34 percent already as the EU seeks to wean itself off dependence, with Putin essentially using energy as a blackmail weapon.
Imports via DESFA’s LNG import terminal located on the island of Revithoussa near Athens increased significantly, accounting for 44 percent of total natural gas imports, up from 31 percent last year, the ministry noted.
DESFA previously said the Revithoussa LNG terminal received in total 39 vessels during the six months, compared to just 15 shipments in the same period last year.
Besides the United States, Greece also receives supplies from Algeria, Nigeria, Oman, and others.
The EU is looking to Greece to become a central spot for ensuring energy security in the southeastern region. Bulgaria opened a natural gas link with Greece at a ceremony attended by the leader of the European Union’s executive arm, who emphasized the determination to stop relying on Russian energy imports.
Speaking at the event in Sofia, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen hailed the pipeline as an important contribution to limiting opportunities for Russia to use its gas and oil reserves to blackmail or punish the EU.
“This pipeline changes the energy security situation for Europe. This project means freedom,“ von der Leyen told an audience that included heads of state and government from the region.
The European Commission committed nearly 250 million euros ($247.59 million) to finance the project, she said.
The importance of the Gas Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria pipeline, which was completed in July, has risen significantly after Russia decided to turn its natural gas deliveries into a political weapon.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)