EU values Greece’s role in energy autonomy

By Eleni Varvitsioti

After meeting with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, European Commissioner for Energy Guenther Oettinger said on Wednesday that the two men had discussed the “important role that Greece will play in the European gas strategy,” as Brussels prepares its strategy for the European Union’s energy autonomy, which will include stress tests for member states.

Oettinger stressed Greece’s significance in this area, pointing out its dual contribution to the bloc’s energy system both as a transit center and as a supplier with its own reserves.

The German commissioner’s meeting with the Greek premier was particularly timely as it took place only a few hours before the presentation of the Commission’s integrated strategy on energy security – a key issue now that developments in Ukraine have reminded everyone just how vulnerable the EU is in terms of supply.

Consequently the Commission proposed yesterday that in order to ensure the adequate supply of energy in the bloc for next winter, stress tests will be performed on a regional and European level to establish how the energy system of the EU is able to cope with the risks associated with the security of supply and to draft contingency plans.

In this context, Oettinger said that Greece’s pipeline network could play a role in energy developments. “It will take special significance,” he said, as will the interconnection system with a capacity for energy flow reversal so that natural gas can be forwarded from Greece to Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine.

In the presence of Greece’s Energy Minister Yiannis Maniatis, Samaras and the commissioner also discussed the latest developments regarding the gas supply agreement between the EU and Azerbaijan, privatization plans for the country’s Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) and the issue of the liquefied natural gas terminal station, “which will be upgraded considering that in the Eastern Mediterranean there are gas reserves in Israel, Cyprus and Greece,” according to Oettinger. “For these reasons the development of gas infrastructure, an underwater pipeline and terminals in Greece are significant for us at the European Commission, too,” he added.