Plans to tackle Russian crisis

Gov’t examines contingency strategies if natural gas supply is disrupted or farming exports are affected By Chryssa Liaggou and Dimitra Manifava

The government is keeping a close eye on developments in the Russia-Ukraine crisis in a bid to respond to any adverse effects it may have both on natural gas and oil imports, as well as on exports of agricultural products to Russia.

The first crisis meeting took place on Thursday under Energy Minister Yiannis Maniatis and included the managers of all state energy companies. The purpose of the meeting was to assess the country’s readiness to ensure supply.

Another meeting is set for Tuesday under Deputy Development Minister Notis Mitarakis, where the topic will be the future of trade relations with Russia. Topping the agenda will be an action plan to handle not only a possible problem to exports but also the risk to Russian imports.

The Development Ministry has asked all parties concerned, from industrialists to chambers and exporting associations, to present their proposals ahead of the meeting. Among the proposals, according to sources, is a request to the European Commission for support to sectors that could be harmed by a rift in trade relations with Russia. Russian authorities have not ruled out imposing restrictions on Greek fruit imports as of next week, citing hygiene concerns.

Greece is among the European Union member states with the highest dependence on Russian gas, which covers about 65 percent of domestic demand. In the case that flow is disrupted, problems to the Greek market’s supply are inevitable and will also affect electricity production, which relies on natural gas by 25 percent.

Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) reportedly told Maniatis that it has already taken precautionary measures, but that these would only suffice for one month. If the supply crisis were to last longer, Athens will put in force the emergency plan used in 2009, which provides for a drastic cut to consumption by natural gas-powered electricity producers and major energy-intensive industries.

Sources say DEPA has filled the tanks at Revythousa with 130,000 cubic meters of liquefied gas, which is enough to fully cover 10 days of demand.