By Greek Ambassador Christos Panagopoulos - 07/23/13 10:00 AM EDT
Greek Prime Minister Antonios Samaras will visit the United States next month to meet President Obama and discuss a number of issues critical to Greece, Europe and the United States, including energy security.
Greece finds itself in a strategically advantageous position in southeastern Europe, geographically, economically and politically. Situated at a crucial point on the routes between the exporting countries of the East and South and the importing countries of the West, Greece is gradually reinforcing its role as energy security provider, by supporting key energy projects.
The recent selection of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) by the Shah Deniz Consortium constitutes a major step to the implementation of the “Southern Gas Corridor”. Through the territory of Greece, will cross Albania and the Adriatic Sea and come ashore in southern Italy, allowing gas to flow directly from the Caspian region to European markets.
TAP ensures both greater energy security and greater energy diversification, not only in southeastern Europe, but throughout the European Union. It plays a critical role in sustaining economic growth, meeting global energy demand and providing a new source of natural gas with great potential. This comes as a result of the conclusion of numerous agreements and interconnections with other pipelines (e.g. IGB).
This project will also attract foreign investment and provide significantly more employment opportunities in all countries involved. Direct investment in Greece is estimated up to $2 billion, generating 2,000 direct jobs and an estimated 10,000 additional jobs. The pipeline will be the catalyst for the creation of a whole new business ecosystem, including more jobs in manufacturing, utilities, transport, communications, financial and business services support.
Given its magnitude and scope, TAP is expected to foster better relations among involved countries, by reinforcing stability in the wider region, given the strong support shown by all stakeholders.
TAP is just one step we are taking in order to promote energy security. We have adopted a very ambitious energy policy designed to safeguard energy security, improve efficiency and ensure sustainability and diversity. Our goal is the creation of a favorable economic climate, by increasing self-sufficiency, differentiating supply sources and diversifying existing supply routes.
In addition, we continue to strengthen our infrastructure. Since 2000, the LNG import terminal (Revithoussa Island) has hosted, more than 400 vessels carrying gas, mainly from Algeria. The completion of a third storage tank in Revithoussa will increase the total capacity by 73 percent by late 2015. Also, a proposal aiming at connecting Revithoussa with Ukraine, via a Central Gas Corridor, is currently under consideration, which will make Greece a vital crossroad for the reception, trading, storage and transport of natural gas in the Eastern Mediterranean area.
The recent very promising findings of natural gas deposits in the Ioanian and Cretan seas present new opportunities for Greece as a provider of energy security. Upon conclusion of all necessary arrangements, within the framework of our national energy policy, we will proceed with the exploration of these significant deposits in the respective areas.
Greece also displays tremendous potential in areas such as renewable energy, by supporting technological development and innovation, and providing opportunities for employment and regional development.
Finally, all these initiatives are a token of our determination to enhance our role as energy security provider for Europe, as well as the entire transatlantic area. In this vein, we remain committed and stand ready to continue our cooperation with our partners and allies in order to further strengthen global economy and ensure prosperity.
Christos Panagopoulos is Greece's ambassador to the United States.