GREEK STRATEGY: GAS
The Greek state has decided under its mid to long-term energy planning, to place emphasis on natural gas projects, aimed both for the domestic and the regional markets. All of them mentioned below have been approved by the EU's authorities, as Projects of Common Interest (PCI) or have been given a priority by Greece's state authorities, under a "fast track" scheme and surely signal a strengthened reliance of the country in natural gas and for the long-term.
Firstly, a grand project currently being designed is the so-called "East Mediterranean" gas pipeline that aims to transfer natural gas from the offshore fields in Israel and Cyprus into the Greek mainland. A pre-feasibility study has been conducted and further researches are well underway.
Up until now the managerial authorities of the DEPA Company and the Greek Ministry of Energy, have assured that this pipeline aims to interconnect with IGB towards Bulgaria and the rest of the Balkans and with IGI towards Italy and the EU markets, whilst voices have been heard for an eventual link with TAP as well. The project will cost at least 9 billion USD and is going to be one of the most technically challenging ones, due to the high depths involved and the geomorphology of the Mediterranean Sea in which it will have a total length of around 1,200 Km.
Moreover the Greek-Bulgarian interconnections are planned to be enchased with a new interconnector line regarding the flow of Russian gas between the Nea Santa and Maritsa regions, whilst in parallel the brand new Interconnector IGB is underway, with a 3 bcm annual capacity that could be upgraded to 5 bcm. It is estimated to be operational by 2016 and with a total cost of 320 million USD, having 180 Km of length and a 32 inches diameter. Meanwhile and regarding the existing flow of Russian gas to Greece from Bulgaria, reverse capability is being developed that should be ready by 2015.
Another project that has regional importance and could be coupled with the aforementioned ones, is the Aegean LNG terminal that will have a 150,000 cm capacity and could pump 4 bcm per annum into the Greek transmission system and to the neighboring ones according to demand. It is planned to be constructed in Northern Greece and close both to the borders with Turkey and Bulgaria, so it can "fit" with the local networks of those countries. The budget is estimated at 450 million USD and its construction could be completed in 36 months from final investment decision.
Concerning LNG projects, there is also the plan for a floating and regasification unit in the same vicinity as the Aegean LNG that will have a 170,000 cm capacity and could have an outflow of 700,000 cm per hour. The project is estimated at 550 million USD and is planned to be online by early 2017.
The most important and costly project in which Greece is actually the host and not a shareholder, is the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which stretches from the borders with Turkey and is in reality a major spur of the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP), and in effect a major component of the so-called Southern Corridor, a 60 billion USD mega-project aiming to connect the Shah Deniz II gas field in Azerbaijan to the EU markets through Turkey, Balkans and Italy.
TAP itself is well underway and is estimated to cost for the Greek route, around 2 billion USD, creating some 10,000 work placements. It will have a yearly flow capacity of 10 bcm and is to be operational by late 2019, with a total length of 870 Km within Greek territory.
Close to where TAP is scheduled to pass, and in the Kavala region, an interesting design for an underground gas storage facility is being sought which would be able to store around 800 million cm of gas, with a cost of 550 million USD, and also be directly connected to the country gas network system through a 40 Km pipeline.
Lastly, the Greek companies DEPA and DESFA have a mid-term plan until 2020 to invest more than 1 billion USD into expanding the use of gas into the country and increase the reach of the domestic transmission system, with a particular focus in household consumption and small-businesses. This effort requires investments in infrastructure works, such as new pressure stations and will likely assist into a steady 10% increase in gas use in the country for the foreseeable future which means, around 400 million cm per year added consumption.
Should all the above projects become a reality or not, depends on a variety of factors, such as willingness of international investors to collaborate, political decisions of interested third parties that have a stake as producers or traders and the overall EU strategy on natural gas issues, which tends to fluctuate according to wider geopolitical trends.
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