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Department of State: Energy should not be influenced by political differences

28 March 2012 / 22:03:47  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

Countries should solve political problems with each other; stop drawing dividing lines and start working together for the benefit of their common interest, said in his speech the American diplomat and Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy Richard Morningstar during an investment energy forum organized by Economist magazine in Athens.

Exploring new energy sources offers the countries a unique opportunity that should not be wasted because of political bickering, he said and stated that the USA encourages the attempts of new energy sources exploration, both in Europe and the rest of the world.

The diplomat said the new sources will be directed at covering the energy needs of all countries and therefore, their policies must be balanced. As he stated, the interest of the USA in exploring new energy sources in Europe and Asia does not seek confrontation with Russia. At the same time, he pointed out that countries such as those around the Caspian Sea will have to make do with the sources found on their territories alone.

Barack Obama’s government supports any pipeline to Europe, if the following conditions are met: First, it has to supply the neighbouring countries and secondly, it should be guaranteed that its extension will be possible in case new sources are found, said the diplomat. He gave as an example the ITGI pipeline, which is one of the options and it will pass through Greece to reach Italy. Most of the transported gas must be distributed among the Balkan countries, which are now dependent on only one source, were his words.

As for the drilling taking place in the Aphrodite plot in the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus, Richard Morningstar repeated the USA position that the country has every right to carry this out on a territory belonging to it. According to him, the total amount of the reserves when discovered should be distributed between the two communities on the island.

The diplomat said that if it was ultimately decided to build the Trans Adriatic Pipeline TAP, branches to all Balkan countries should be provided.

A little more than a month ago, the consortium Shah Deniz in Azerbaijan chose this particular project, which involved one of its shareholders. But it seems that the companies behind the ITGI project have not given up the "battle". Elio Ruggeri, Managing Director of the Italian company IGI Poseidon, presented the progress of the project at present, while stressing that countries like Iran, Iraq, Turkmenistan and others cannot export natural gas yet. He stated that only Azerbaijan could but it would not matter who the provider would be as the buyers were only interested in prices and capacity.

"Our project is the most reliable because it binds fewer countries and then in the framework of European legislation. It is the best from a strategic perspective as it has many sources and is directed to many destinations. It is also a priority project for the European Union, which has contributed to its financing." Elio Ruggeri referred to the interconnector between Greece and Bulgaria, the construction agreement for which was signed in 2009. He said the decision for the final phase of its funding should be adopted in December this year.

Former Executive Director of the Bulgarian Energy Holding Jordan Georgiev presented the development of the project so far. Within the project, there will be IGB interconnections between Bulgaria and Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia, Bulgaria and Turkey and Bulgaria and Romania. The interconnector in the north will be the first completed and it is expected to be operational in 2014-2015.

Rickard Scoufias, Country Manager for Greece of the competitive TAP gas pipeline project, said in turn that the participants involved in it are determined to finish it. According to him, the Trans Adriatic Pipeline will bring great benefits to Greece. "The pipeline will be 900 kilometres long and 500 of them will be in Greece. The total amount to be invested is 1.5 billion euro. It will happen at a time when the country has huge investment needs. Furthermore, 2,000 new jobs will be created too," said the lawyer, adding that the project enjoys the support of government.

The forum was attended by the energy ministers of Greece, Cyprus and Israel and representatives of the companies that have started and continue drilling in Israel and Cyprus. Gideon Tadmor from the Israeli Delek Drilling and James Demarest from Noble Energy USA expressed their interest in participating in the exploration for the detection of hydrocarbon in Greece. Gideon Tadmor said that his company is seriously considering the possibility of building a pipeline to carry natural gas to Europe via Greece.

"We are considering all options, including the construction of pipelines passing through Greece or Turkey, including in the form of liquid natural gas." He added that the success of the fields explored in Israel was repeated in Cyprus and could be transferred in Greece.



Tags: EconomyPoliticsMarketsNatural gasGas pipelinesDrillingCypresIsraelThe Economist
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