Gas pipeline link signed

Greece and Italy yesterday signed for the construction of an underwater natural gas pipeline linking the two countries, and helping ease Europe’s overdependance on Russian gas. «We have done something that in the future will lead us to more security as far as energy is concerned,» said Italian Economic Development Minister Pier Luigi Bersani, who signed the agreement with Greek Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas. «This means diversification in supply and allows us to feed the market with larger quantities and be more flexible in pricing,» the Italian minister added. The pipeline will allow for the interconnection of Italy and other European countries with the sources of natural gas in the Caspian Sea and the Middle East. Under the agreement, 80 percent of the 8 billion cubic meters transmission capacity will be reserved for Italy’s Edison and Greece’s natural gas company DEPA will have 20 percent. If capacity increases beyond the 8 billion mark, up to 10 percent will be allowed to be sold to third parties. The interconnection will be completed with the Turkey-Greece pipeline that is already under construction. About 11.5 billion c.m. per year will reach Turkey from various sources, from which 8 billion will end up at Otranto, Italy to be channeled to other European markets, too. The remaining 3.5 billion will be handled by DEPA, with most of it transmitted to nearby states. «This pipeline offers prospects for building a connecting network to Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,» Sioufas said. «For Greece it’s also important because we can provide gas to the center and north of the country.» The construction of the project will begin in June 2008 and its completion is projected for 2011. Its total investment comes to -1 billion and will be jointly funded by the European Union as it belongs to the European Commission’s priority projects. «The position of DEPA and Edison is bolstered by this pipeline in the market of the broader region, energy supply security is strengthened and the country emerges as a natural gas transmission channel,» added Sioufas. (Reuters, Kathimerini)