Greece Unveils LNG Regional Strategy
The looming natural gas crisis in the EU and in particular in Southeast Europe due to the present day gridlock between Ukraine and Gazprom, has prompted further action by Greece to persuade its neighbouring states to place more emphasis in the LNG sector.
More specifically, Greek Energy Minister Ioannis Maniatis recently met a delegation of Greek-owned shipping companies that deal heavily with LNG transport and discussed at length measures that will ensure steady and long-term supply of the product. Another interesting aspect was the attention provided to the use of LNG as a fuel for vessels, a position supported by the EU on a long-term basis, at least in theory.
Further, the particular subject of supplying Greece’s myriad of islands with either LNG or CNG was touched upon in order to reduce reliance on oil products. It is of importance to note that considerable investments are needed towards this aim. Floating storage and regasification units (FSRU) was universally agreed upon to be crucial for securing the needs both of the country and neighboring markets and also for raising fund for the upgrade of the existing Revythousa LNG terminal, along with the construction of a new unit, preferably in the Kavala region of the country. This could serve as a hub if it will be interlinked with three systems: Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), the domestic Greek transmission system and the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB).
In that sense a flow of more than 15 bcm could be achieved so as for the hub to be able to be profitable and have the necessary capacity of shifting gas into Bulgaria and thereafter to Romania and Hungary through subsequent interconnectors of those states.
The meeting with the Greek Minister was attended by the following companies: Dynagas LNG Partners, Tsakos Group, Maran Gas Maritime, Galog Company, which have together invested over the past few years more than $3 billion into building a brand new LNG fleet, mostly in South Korean shipyards. At present, approximately 40% of new LNG construction is financed by Greek-owned companies that are naturally seeking to establish a strong gas market within their own country and use it as a springboard for imports to be heading to regional markets.
The above is aligned with the overall strategy of DEPA and DESFA, the latter being acquired by Azeri SOCAR. Due to the fact that TAP, which is part of the overall Southern Gas Corridor project, would only be able to secure less than 2% of the EU's annual gas consumption and the fact that the Balkan and central European markets lack their own significant gas resources, the plan being sought is to introduce large quantities of LNG, so as to construct an 'Aegean-Baltic' gas axis.
For the moment, both the Greek government and the aforementioned companies have not reached a concluding business plan, the project calls for the construction of an FSRU unit, a new LNG terminal, the upgrade of the existing one, along with an underground storage facility of at least 1 bcm. Moreover, certain 'mini-LNG' and storage installations are scheduled for the islands of Crete, Rhodes, Lesvos and Chios that will both serve local needs and also be used as small hubs for the circular flow of gas when needed according to domestic and regional demands. Lastly, the establishment of a virtual natural gas exchange is envisaged for the Thessaloniki region, along with a boost of the Greek gas transmission system to cover the entire country and cover industrial, commercial and residential demand in the coming decade.
The goal to shift gas quantities up into the Baltic Sea is achievable through the introduction of a set of interconnectors with Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland that Greece aims to have backed strongly by the EU in light of its energy vision for 2030. As a secondary option, the future construction of an 8 bcm pipeline connecting Cyprus and Israel's offshore gas reserves in the East Mediterranean or alternatively the creation of LNG terminals that will send gas via vessels to the proposed Greek units. Other notable suppliers being examined are Algeria, which already exports 600-800 million mcm, per annum to Greece and also Qatar, and Nigeria.