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Greece breaks Russia's dominace in natural gas

A corridor for the transporting of natural gas to Europe will be created with the launching of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) at the end of next year and its extension to the Greek-Bulgarian IGB pipeline by the summer of 2021 that will then be extended to Romania and Serbia. This has prompted countries such as Serbia to get in on the action as the country's President Aleksandar Vucic held a two-day visit to Athens this week.

Greece is set to play a crucial role in helping Europe reduce its reliance on Russian gas, helping replace it with LNG from the US and, at a later stage, from reserves in the eastern Mediterranean.

A corridor for the transporting of natural gas to Europe will be created with the launching of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) at the end of next year and its extension to the Greek-Bulgarian IGB pipeline by the summer of 2021 that will then be extended to Romania and Serbia.

This has prompted countries such as Serbia to get in on the action as the country's President Aleksandar Vucic held a two-day visit to Athens this week, along with several of his government's ministers.

This was highlighted by an announcement issued by Greece's Environment and Energy Ministry on Wednesday after a meeting between Deputy Minister Dimitris Economou and Serbian Energy Minister Aleksandar Antic.

The goal of the Serbians, the announcement said, is "the inclusion of their country to this vertical route" after the completion of the Bulgaria-Serbia Interconnector that could be supplied with LNG from Revithousa, close to Athens, and later from the floating unit in northern Greece's Alexandroupolis.

In recent years, Athens has taken a central role in the pipelines crossing the Balkans, with neighboring countries eager to be connected in a way that will help detach them from Gazprom.

The TAP pipeline may be the biggest part of the energy puzzle but a Bulgaria-Romania-Serbia-Hungary interconnector that is gradually taking shape is playing an important strategic role.

This vertical pipeline, linking the south with the north, strikes at the heart of the area dominated by Russia as these countries have a 90 percent dependence on Gazprom's gas. One by one, each of the smaller pipelines will be hooked up, such as the Bulgaria-Romania link and the Bulgaria-Serbia one, that is scheduled for completion in 2022.

Once hooked up to the broader network, these smaller pipelines, which also include the Greek Bulgarian IGB, will allow for gas from the US - and later from Israel and Cyprus - to be transported from Greece to Ukraine.

This is all part of a geopolitical plan that will take effect in the not-too-distant future. Envisioned by the US, it will deliver natural gas from western powers to Ukraine, right in Russia's backyard, further weakening Moscow's influence.

A part of this planning includes the floating gas storage unit in Alexandroupolis and the existing facility in Revithousa. Two projects that tie in well with the broader scheme and will play a key role in getting LNG from Greece to the broader southeastern European area and the Balkans.

The new energy map though is not expected to drastically reduce reliance on Russian gas in the region. While work on the new pipelines has been taking place, Russia has responded by planning the Turkish Stream pipeline that will transport to the Balkans, via Turkish soil, 31.5 billion cubic meters of its gas every year.

The impact of these changes will be largely determined by the price at which they can deliver gas. US companies are hoping that the cheaper LNG they can provide to Revithousa and Alexandroupolis, will win over the Russian gas, as discussed between Greek and American officials in New York this week.

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