ECONOMY

Greece seeking to expand sources of supply of natural gas

The government plans to initiate talks with Turkey and Iran as part of efforts to broaden its sources of supply to ensure that Greece will have an adequate reserves of natural gas to cope with an expected surge in demand in the next decade, Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos said yesterday. Greece is currently supplied with natural gas by Russia via a pipeline and by Algeria in liquid form in tankers. The Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) is set to hold talks with its Russian counterpart in the coming months to increase the amount of imports, on top of the 6 billion cubic meters already supplied by Russia. Greece needs to import more in order to ensure sufficiency, especially when the 11 companies which have acquired permits for electricity generation come on line, the minister said. Tsochadzopoulos will be visiting his Turkish counterpart in Ankara on March 28 and 29 to discuss the possibility of constructing a natural gas pipeline. «It is possible that we might agree on the amount of natural gas to be imported via the Caspian Sea,» he said. The minister also plans to make a trip to Teheran shortly for talks on the transmission of Iranian natural gas to Greece via Turkey. Following discussions between the energy regulatory authority RAE and DEPA, he said the ministry has decided that the transmission costs of natural gas for an average unit of electricity production will come to 8 drachmas (0.02 euros) per cubic meter against the current charge of 18-20 drachmas (0.05-0.06 euros) paid by the Public Power Corporation. Tsochadzopoulos announced plans to set up an energy derivatives market as part of a strategy to regulate distribution and facilitate the export of energy to Balkan countries. The government aims to accelerate the liberalization of the natural gas market ahead of a 2006 deadline. Polyzogopoulos was also dismissive of the idea for a three-year deal.