| 22 February 2024, Thursday |

European Union is redrawing bloc’s energy map to overcome its reliance on Russia

In the aim of reducing the European Union’s heavy reliance on Russia for natural gas, a new pipeline, installed in northern Greece, is due to start commercial operation in June and was built during the COVID-19 pandemic
Earlier, the mountainous Greek-Bulgaria border was remote but now the pipeline will ensure that large volumes of gas will flow between the two countries in both directions to generate electricity, fuel industry, and heat homes.
Energy expert and research fellow at the Brussels-based think tank Bruegel, Simone Tagliapietra told Reuters news agency that “It’s a new world and it’s clear that Russia doesn’t want to be part of an international order as we think of it.”
“The strategy, particularly by Germany, over the last 50 years was always one of engaging with Russia on energy. … But given what we are seeing in Ukraine and given Russia’s view of international relations, it’s not the kind of country with which we would like to do business,” he added.

Antonis Mitzalis, executive director of the Greek contractor AVAX that oversaw the project, said the pipeline, which is worth $250 million, will carry 3 billion cubic metres of gas per year.

Russian gas giant Gazprom had refused to provide services to Poland and Bulgaria after they refused the pay Moscow in roubles.
The West has imposed restrictions and sanctions on Russia for invading Ukraine without any provocation.

Highlighting the new pipeline’s supply chain issues, Mitzalis said, “We had a sequence in mind but the fact that some materials did not arrive made us rework that sequence, sometimes with a cost effect,”

After Russia’s decision to stop providing oil to two European countries, EU chief Ursula Von Der Leyen had vowed a ”coordinated and planned” response.

She had called Russia’s move ”unjustified” and slammed Russian President Vladimir Putin for ”blackmailing” the bloc.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told his Bulgarian counterpart, Kiril Petkov, “Bulgaria and Greece will continue to work together for energy security and diversification — of strategic importance for both countries and the region.”

“We both are confident for the successful completion of the IGB on time,” Mitsotakis added referring the new pipeline which is officially called the Gas Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria.

According to data from Eurostat, the EU statistics agency, Bulgaria imported thirty times less gas from Russia in comparison to Germany in 2020.

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