US Energy Envoy: New Gas Projects ‘Are Little More Than Distractions’

Energy |Author: Angel Petrov | May 6, 2016, Friday // 18:45|  views

Amos Hochstein, US Special Coordinator for International Energy Affairs

New proposals and MoUs for new gas projects sometimes “have little more than the goal of distracting from the good projects that are underway”, Amos Hochstein, US Special Coordinator for International Energy Affairs, said on Friday.  

In a phone briefing on the US-EU Energy Council meeting held earlier this week, he said there were “a lot of distractions” among proposals, from Gazprom’s commitment to make gas supplies for the Poseidon project to Slovakia’s Eastring pipeline initiative.

Hochstein made the comment after asked by Novinite whether Russian plans to make deliveries along the route of so-called Poseidon project, linking Greece and Italy (and included in the EU’s list of Projects of Common Interest), were compatible with the Southern Gas Corridor that uses a similar route and was singled out as a top priority at the council’s meeting.

Earlier this week, the EU and the US also pointed to the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria, LNG terminals in Greece and Croatia, and other regional gas links in Southeast Europe and in the Baltics are as key to boosting Eastern European energy security.

“The [projects] that are ready for implementation and support the goals of energy security, national security, economic security and unity are the ones I mentioned. The IGB, Trans-Adriatic Pipeline as planned, as well as the Croatia terminal with the connection to Hungary and potentially onwards to Ukraine. Those are the projects, along with smaller projects inside Europe."

Some of the others, he opined, serve only to divert attention and sometimes "have little more than the goal of distracting from the good projects that are underway and have very little behind them in terms of willingness to implementation.

Hochstein reiterated Washington's concern that energy is not only being used as a political tool, but also as a divisive mechanism "allowing for a very different energy reality in Eastern and Central Europe and the Baltics compared to Western Europe."

"I am still concerned that the ability for Eastern and Central Europe in particular to benefit from new technologies and new markets is limited... The only way countries can stop being reliant on one supplier is by having a mechanism to receive new gas and new energy products; and as long the infrastructure is not there, they will not benefit from it."

"It is a shame especially at a time when gas prices are down in Europe," Hochstein added.

The meeting came against the backdrop of the first US deliveries of US liquefied natural gas to Europe which arrived in Portuguese capital Lisbon.

Hochstein reiteratedthe US was looking forward to the completion of the Southern Gas Corridor, "a groundbreaking pipeline that has as much commercial as it does geopolitical implications for Azerbaijan, for the Caspian, for Turkey and Europe."

The SCG is "a top priority for US national security over the last several years," he made clear.

However, he added the US was "deeply concerned" about the Nord Stream 2 project which would "endanger the economic viability of Ukraine and Slovakia, deepen the rift between the East and West and freeze it in time for another generation and that would move overall energy security and Energy Union concerns significantly backwards."

Nord Stream 2 is "not compatible with the vision of Energy Union", he added.

"This is not about Russia, it is not against Russia, on the country - it has the largest reserves, it is a neighbor and has infrastructure. This is about creating and generating competition for Russian gas and allowing for non-Russian gas to have the ability to enter the market which currently does not exist."

Established in 2009 as a mechanism for cooperation and collaboration with the EU, following the energy crisis at the beginning of the year that followed Russia's gas dispute with Ukraine.

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Tags: Amos Hochstein, interconnector greece-bulgaria, Russia, Eastring, Poseidon


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