Greece lines up additional gas supplies as Ukraine tensions rise
By Angeliki Koutantou
ATHENS (Reuters) -Greece has lined up additional supplies of pipeline gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) should existing plans be disrupted by the Ukraine crisis, a government spokesperson said on Wednesday.
Western nations on Tuesday punished Russia with new sanctions for ordering troops into breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine and threatened to go further if Moscow launched an all-out invasion.
In perhaps the most significant measure announced on Tuesday, Germany halted certification of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline owned by Russian state-owned gas giant Gazprom, a move likely to raise gas prices in Europe.
Greece imports 40% of its gas from Russia and also has contracts with Azerbaijan and Algeria.
“We have made provisions for additional supplies of LNG and (pipeline) natural gas,” government spokesperson Giannis Oikonomou told state television.
He said Greece would try to get as much gas as it can via a pipeline which runs from Azerbaijan to Italy.
Along with Algeria, Egypt and Nigeria could also provide additional LNG to Greece, a source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
To stave off any disruption to electricity output, some gas-fired plants are ready to switch to diesel, Oikonomou added.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who discussed the issue with his Romanian counterpart in Bucharest, said Europe should reduce its dependence on Russian gas and there was room for a deeper cooperation with Romania, also a natural gas producer.
Mitsotakis said EU member states needed to deal collectively with the matter of increased electricity prices.
“We need a European response to a problem faced by all EU members states,” he said, adding he would raise the issue at the next EU leaders’ meeting.
“Each country has its own way of dealing with it but it’s a problem which is fiscally painful for all of them.”
Greece has so far spent 2 billion euros ($2.3 billion) to subsidise power bills for households and businesses facing soaring energy prices.
($1 = 0.8824 euros)
(Additional reporting by Lefteris PapadimasEditing by Mark Potter)