TAP pipeline, Cosco expansion offer ray of hope

On a busy day for Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, there was some promising news for the premier as Greece secured a deal for the Trans Adriatic Pipeline for natural gas (TAP) and Chinese shipping group Cosco inaugurated a new container terminal at Piraeus.

Following a period of political turmoil, Samaras spent Wednesday in a series of meetings with businessmen. The government hoped this could help overcome the introspection and skepticism of the past few days.

The TAP deal helped in this respect. The pipeline will collect Azeri gas in Turkey and carry it across Greece and Albania before reaching southern Italy, a distance of 870 kilometers. A study by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE), once headed by Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, suggested that Greece would see investments of 1.5 billion euros as a result of being involved in the pipeline. This would lead to the direct creation of 2,000 jobs and another 10,000 would be created indirectly, the think tank indicated.

Stournaras declared himself “very happy” on Wednesday as he signed an agreement with the consortium behind TAP.

“I believe this will bring jobs to Greece,” said Stournaras. “If this goes ahead, it will help Greece become an energy hub in the wider area.”

In Piraeus, Samaras envisaged Greece as a hub for trade between Europe and China as he joined Captain Wei Jiafu of Cosco to cut the red ribbon on the new container terminal at the port. Samaras called on the Chinese group to deepen its involvement in Greece. “We invite you to more successful cooperation in transport, trains, ports and ship repair,” said Samaras, adding that further development of the port by Cosco would create 500 new jobs, ultimately making Piraeus one of the five biggest cargo ports in Europe, employing about 3,000 people.

Samaras also said that his government would in the next few days announce the privatization of Trainose, the state company that manages Greece’s rail network. He suggested that there were investment opportunities to be gained from linking Piraeus with the rail service.

The prime minister also met on Wednesday with Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev and the heads of Wind and Vodafone mobile phone companies.