Baku, Azerbaijan, March 3
By Aygun Badalova - Trend:
Russia's new gas pipeline project to Southern Europe is just another effort to revive the country's failed plans to supply gas into the region, Agnia Grigas,energy and political risk expert, non-resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council believes.
Russia's Gazprom, Italy's Edison SpA and Greek gas company DEPA SA signed last week a memorandum of understanding on deliveries of Russian natural gas through third countries to Greece and from Greece to Italy via an undersea pipeline in the Black Sea.
The sides are planning to use to full extent the results of work that has already been completed by Edison and DEPA under the ITGI Poseidon project. This initiative will bring back the ITGI Poseidon project, completing the natural gas corridor from Turkey to Greece, and via an offshore pipeline across the Ionian Sea to Italy.
Grigas told Trend that the implementation of this project is still highly uncertain and depends on many variables.
"For now it is just another of Russian efforts to secure another route to send its gas to European markets as it tries to cut Ukraine out of the gas transit trade," Grigas said.
"The ITGI [Poseidon] project is an effort to revive older plans to supply southern Europe that failed when the Russia-backed South Stream project was cancelled by the EU and the Turkish Stream stalled due to Turkish-Russian tensions over Syria," said the expert.
Grigas said that though the new project would rely on the ITGI Poseidon gas pipeline, it would still need to build additional pipeline infrastructure to connect from the Black Sea to Greece via Bulgaria or Turkey.
The funding for the project may be difficult as Russia is facing an economic downturn and sanctions, and is already prioritizing building the Nord Stream II pipeline from Russia to Germany, she said.
The Poseidon pipeline was a part of the ITGI (Interconnector Turkey-Greece-Italy) System and was originally designed to connect Greece to Italy, creating a natural gas corridor between Turkey, Greece and Italy to provide the latter and the rest of Europe with gas from the Caspian Sea and the Middle East.
Grigas believes that Europe does not need this new route, proposed by Russia.
"Brussels is actively seeking to secure alternatives sources and supply routes to Russian gas. The EU priority is completing the Southern Corridor infrastructure to bring Azerbaijani gas to Europe," Grigas said, adding however that the new Russia's project is a competitor to the Southern Gas Corridor.
Today the Southern Gas Corridor is among the European Commission's priority energy projects, which aims at the diversification of the EU gas supply sources and routes. Azerbaijani gas in considered as the main source for that project.
The project, which envisages the transportation of gas from the Caspian Sea region to the European countries through Georgia and Turkey, has been included in the European Commission's PCI (projects of common interest) list.