Gazprom head in Athens to talk pipeline stretch

The boss of Russian energy giant Gazprom will meet Greece’s prime minister in Athens on Tuesday, after reports that the two parties are set to sign a pipeline deal in which Russia would make billions in an advance payment to cash-strapped Greece.

Gazprom’s Alexei Miller (photo) will meet Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras as well as Energy Minister Panayiotis Lafazanis to discuss energy issues, the ministry said in a statement.

A Greek official told AFP on Saturday that the two parties are due to sign an agreement to extend the planned Turkish Stream pipeline to Greece.

Athens stands to receive around 5 billion euros in advance payment for future gas transit fees, said the Greek source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

A spokesman for Greece’s Energy Ministry would not confirm whether such an agreement is due to be signed, and would only say the two sides “have several different energy issues to discuss such as the pipeline as well as gas prices.”

If the deal is indeed sealed, any advance payment would be a welcome source of revenues for Greece.

Analysts are however skeptical, as the Turkish Stream pipeline is not expected to come into service until 2019 and Ankara and Moscow are struggling to come to a final deal.

“2019 is a long way into the future. I’d be surprised if Russia were really to pay Greece such an amount of money four years in advance for a risky project which still needs to be vetted by EU regulators,” said Holger Schmieding of Berenberg Bank.


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