bne IntelliNews -
Russia and Greece have agreed to move Russian gas via Greece to the European Union (EU), circumventing the current main gas supply route in Ukraine by constructing a pipeline via Turkey.
On the fringes of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and Greek Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis on June 19 signed a memorandum envisaging the construction of a $2bn pipeline.
The line will ship Russian gas flowing from the planned 'Turkish Stream' Black Sea pipeline via Turkey to European customers of Russian gas giant Gazprom. The Turkish Stream pipeline and extension will replaced Russia's current route for shipping gas to Europe via Ukraine, which Gazprom has accused of unreliability.
The agreement envisages formation of a 50-50 joint venture called South European Gas Pipeline. The pipeline is planned to ship 47bn cubic metres of gas per year, compared with 63bn cubic metres planned to be shipped from Russia to Turkey across the Black Sea via Turkish Stream.
According to Novak, pipeline construction will start in 2016 with completion slated for 2019, and will be funded by loans from Russian state-owned development bank VEB.
Lafazanis said the pipeline would "play a unifying role in the region. Its implementation is not directed against anyone, but on the contrary, will unify the regions through which it passes," he said, as quoted by Russia's Prime news agency.
Lafazanis also said that Greece would also renew talks on construction of a gas pipeline running from Burgas in Bulgaria to Alexandroupoli in Greece, allowing maritime shipments to bypass the Bosphorus straits. "Greece is trying to transform into a regional energy hub," Lafazanis said, adding that Greece aimed for a "multi-vector energy policy".
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