Europe’s build-up of energy security will see Greece play a central role as the country turns from a historical gas importer to an exporter to neighbouring countries in the region, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Wednesday.

Greece’s rising position as an energy supplier to Europe is intrinsically linked to the bloc’s security of supply, said Mitsotakis at the opening of the World LNG Summit & Awards in Athens, citing his government’s investment plan to expand gas and liquefied natural gas infrastructure in light of a Europe-wide need to diversify sources of supply as Russian flows are disrupted.

“Greece is an anchor in increasing turbulence,” said Mitsotakis.

“It is an exporter of energy security to its neighbours.”

The current government made critical investments in new infrastructure for gas and LNG imports, including the Alexandropoulos floating storage and regasification unit, and terminal facilities, which the government said are expected to become operational between the end of 2023 and the beginning of 2024.

Additional capacity

The investment in additional regasification capacity to supply Greece has been “indispensable” to the country’s energy mix and has “never been more important in wake of Russian illegal war in Ukraine”, Mitsotakis said.

He cited the opening of the gas Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB) pipeline in October, as well as the progress being made in testing of the pipeline connection to North Macedonia, where the final investment decision is expected “shortly”, according to Greece’s Energy & Environment Minister Konstantinos Skrekas, who also spoke at the event.

The IGB plays a key role in moving gas flows originating from the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, delivering to Greece, Bulgaria and neighbouring countries.

Once the Alexandropoulos FSRU is up and running, the additional LNG flows will also be dedicated to boosting exports in the region.

“Europe’s energy security will go through Greece,” said Mitsotakis, noting that the country’s LNG imports increased by 60% in 2022 against the previous year.

He cited Greek supply routes as vital to ensuring Europe meets its gas storage commitments in the coming years.

“It’s clear we’ll need more LNG in 2023 to fill European storage [capacity],” he said. “We need to be realistic that gas will be with us for a while.”

Maria Rita Galli, chief executive for Desfa, who oversaw the reconversion work of the Greece-Bulgaria pipeline, said that Greece is strengthening its role “as [a] transit corridor” for gas flows to central Europe and beyond.

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