Αθήνα, 1 Οκτωβρίου 2014
Minister's speech at the 3th Annual Balkans & the Adriatic Oil & Gas 2014 Summit
Dear delegates, distinguished guests,
I’m particularly happy to be here today and have the honour of opening the 2014 Balkans and the Adriatic Oil and Gas Forum.
This is the third year in a row that the Ministry is participating in this forum.
I can say that I’m familiar with the high level of discussions and presentations that will follow, coming from important personalities of the oil and gas world.
I’m confident that even the most heightened of expectations will be met.
As the Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change of Greece, it brings me great pleasure to witness the holding of such important events in Athens, which aside from a beautiful and conference-friendly city, is acquiring nowadays a more central role in the energy world.
I will support this position by citing a few examples.
As you are probably well aware, the world of oil and gas is not a world of fast changes.
Usually it takes many years for decisions to be taken, projects to materialize, gas to start flowing and profits to be made.
However, in the time span of only two years, since the first Balkans and the Adriatic Oil and Gas Forum, I can already address to you from a different standpoint, as we went through a period of unusually fast developments.
Allow me to start by mentioning the construction of gas pipelines.
A couple of years ago, the Nabuccco pipeline that would carry Azeri gas to central Europe seemed almost a certainty to many.
Today, this plan has been substituted by the construction of the Southern Corridor, consisting of the TANAP and TAP pipelines.
Greece will serve as the gateway of Azeri gas to Europe, hosting 543 km of the Transadriatic Pipeline.
The Southern Corridor is moving forward with steady steps and according to the timetable.
Only very recently I was at Baku for the groundbreaking event of the construction phase, while in Greece a few weeks ago I signed the approval of the Environmental Impact Assessment for the TAP.
At the same time, the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria is also advancing at a fast pace, having the firm support from both governments in Greece and Bulgaria.
We expect the Final Investment Decision to be taken before the end of this year.
Our goal is to have the IGB realized by 2016.
Another two projects involving Greece, the construction of the EastMed pipeline and the ITGI Interconnector, have both been characterized as Projects of Common Interest by the EU.
I should not fail to mention the current upgrading of the LNG terminal in Revithoussa, by increasing its storage capacity by 73%, gasification speed by 40% as well as its port infrastructure in order to accommodate larger ships.
A second floating LNG terminal in northern Greece is planned for the coming years.
At the same time, we are constantly upgrading our local gas network by materializing a number of medium sized projects.
Allow me to underline that all these projects have not been planned under the light of recent developments in world affairs, but are long-term strategic decisions taken by the Greek government in order to enhance the diversification of energy sources, increase energy security, lower the prices to the benefit of the consumer and ultimately constitute Greece an energy hub for Southeast Europe and the East Mediterranean.
However, in order for Greece to become a hub, we also need to develop our upstream sector, which is exactly what we are doing at the moment.
Again just a few weeks ago, the Parliament ratified the concession agreements for 3 blocks in Western Greece.
We are now in the process of a much bigger and ambitious call for tenders, comprising 20 offshore blocks in the Ionian and Cretan Seas, plus three more onshore blocks.
We have strong indications that interest of International Oil Companies for these areas is at a high level, but of course, as you may well understand, I’m not allowed to say anything more at the moment. (παύση)
The oil and gas sector is indeed very interesting, combining a number of sciences and thus being susceptible to multiple approaches, such as the scientific, the financial, the environmental, the legal and of course the political.
As a politician I have to deal with all of these different aspects, something that makes my job at the same time fascinating and very challenging indeed.
Hopefully the discussions in this forum will serve to highlight all these different dimensions of the oil and gas sector, a sector that has a great impact in everyone’s life.
On behalf of the Greek Government I welcome you to Athens and wish to all of you creative and fruitful sessions.