Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Greece negotiating on Azerbaijani gas supplies
16 April 2008 - ARA News - Greece has agreed to join the Kremlin-backed South Stream gas pipeline project, further boosting energy ties with Russia, Greece’s Development Minister Christos Folias was quoted by Reuters as saying. Folias, who has also had talks on gas provision with several other countries, including Azerbaijan and Algeria, said he did not think Greece was increasing its energy dependence on Moscow by joining South Stream. "Russia is a very big energy player and the positive ties we currently enjoy can only be a good thing. We have agreed to be part of the South Stream project. We are now discussing technical details to formulate a document that we can then sign. The political will is there from both sides (Russia and Greece)" he added. In order not to dissatisfy advocates of the US and EU-backed Nabucco pipeline, designed to eventually pump 31 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe mainly from the Caspian region, Christos Folias said he did not view the pipelines as rivals. "I don’t want to see them as athletes competing against each other. I would say they are complementing each other and are offering Europe multiple energy providers, which is good", he noted. The pipeline, which will be jointly built by Gazprom, will eventually take 30 billion cubic metres (bcm) of Russian gas a year to southern Europe, with Greece becoming a transit state on the southern arm of the pipeline pumping gas to Italy. The pipeline will run from Russia via a 900-km underwater pipeline across the Black Sea to Europe. Fellow Balkan nations Serbia and Bulgaria, as well as Hungary, recently joined the South Stream project. The South Stream project is seen as a rival to the planned Nabucco pipeline. South Stream project is estimated to cost twice as much as Nabucco. The US and EU support the idea of taking Turkmen and Kazakh gas via the Trans-Caspian submarine pipeline [Tengiz-Turkmenbashy-Baku (Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan)] route] to Turkey through the South Caucasus Pipeline (Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum pipeline), and onward to Europe via Nabucco Pipeline. The Nabucco Gas Pipeline is a 3,300-kilometre (2,050-mile) project that will transport the Caspian gas from Turkey to Austria via Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary. Five-billion-euro (7.4-billion-dollar) pipeline will pump 31 billion cubic meters of gas each year from the Middle East to Europe from at least 2012. It is likely to deliver the first gas to Europe in 2013.