Low gas prices have a limited effect on the planning of major pipeline projects, including plans to export gas from the East Mediterranean, DEPA CEO Theodoros Kitsakos said.

He was responding to a question from New Europe at a Russian-Greek forum in Athens on November 2 on whether low gas prices could affect the development of gas projects, including the EastMed pipeline.

“The decision whether the gas from the Levantine Basin will come to Europe via Cyprus and Turkey, which it is a political issue, or via EastMed from an offshore pipeline to Crete, Peloponnese and upwards, it does not have to do so much with the price of natural gas at Leviathan,” the head of the Public Gas Corporation of Greece said, adding that this is a long-term, strategic project.

“Regarding natural gas, as long as there is necessity to fulfill gas needs and since we need to take steps to reduce climate change, we cannot be shortsighted in the planning of long-term projects,” Kitsakos said.

He stressed, “Historically and statistically, pipeline gas is cheaper that other gas sources, especially LNG (liquefied natural gas)”.

He said DEPA, together with Poseidon and other partners, look at the market developments for projects that “will deliver after 2025”. “As a result it today’s planning, the border prices of natural gas, it’s not the goal,” he said.

“DEPA, like other European companies, we’re in constant contact, we check the prices, we check the relations, we see how these prices will develop,” Kitsakos said, adding that geopolitical developments, including past spats between Turkey and Israel as well as Russia and Turkey, affected the prices and could not have be predicted.

He said that DEPA is also monitoring oil prices as they are in many cases linked to gas contracts as well as the development of shale deposits in the United States. “The Americans say that they will limit the expansion of Russian gas by bringing LNG shipments to Europe. So far, we have not seen any shipments,” Kitsakos said.

During his speech at the forum, the DEPA CEO highlighted the importance of the Interconnector Greece Bulgaria (IGB), which will connect with the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC), for the energy security of Europe. Kitsakos also noted that DEPA and Gazprom are discussing the South European Pipeline, which will be the extension of Turkish Stream to Europe through the revival of the IGI Poseidon pipeline from Greece to Italy.

However, Kitsakos noted that the South European Pipeline would have to respect EU law. “It’s a delicate balance for the EU to access the transfer of massive quantities of Russian gas via its territory,” he said, noting that the target is for the pipeline to be completed by end 2019, beginning of 2020. “Greece is at the crossroads. We are not a pawn, but a bishop,” Kitsakos said.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who opened the Russian-Greek forum, reportedly told a ceremony the University of Piraeus in Athens later on November 2 that Moscow was ready to extend the Turkish Stream gas pipeline into Europe after receiving absolute guarantees from the European Union on the project implementation.


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