Greece can become the energy gateway to all Europe

EPA/PATRICK SEEGER via Naftemporiki

China has become aware of Greece’s potential the German daily argues. Greece is at the heart of the Chinese “One Belt, One Road” Initiative – the plan to build a modern-age “Silk Road” linking all of Eurasia. The Chinese have chosen Greece, and in particular the Port of Piraeus, as their hub into Western Europe. Already in 2015, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, the president of Greece, was the first European leader to speak about the significance this new Chinese “Silk Road” would have for the rest of the world.

The Greeks, for their part, are gratefully accepting this Chinese investment, feeling all the more snubbed by Germany during the euro crisis.

Greece must now seize this opportunity to become an energy hub. If it does, it can become the gateway for natural gas flowing into Europe from three sources:  Central Asia and Turkey; from the eastern Mediterranean; and from its own seafloors, which cover big reserves of hydrocarbons.

But if Greece wants to become the gateway for gas flowing into Europe, it has to move fast to finish its own part of the Southern Gas Corridor, an initiative by the European Commission to bring gas from the Middle East into Europe, independently of Russia. The Greek section of this corridor is called the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). It runs from the Greco-Turkish border across northern Greece, passes through Albania and the Adriatic and into Italy. Progress looks good. Construction is more than half completed, and it could be piping gas from Azerbaijan to Europe by 2020.

What makes Greece’s prospects even more exciting are the discoveries of hydrocarbons under the eastern Mediterranean sea bed – in the waters off Egypt, Israel and Cyprus. The search is now on for more gas in Greece, near Crete. There are even hopes of Greece one day becoming “a new Norway”. Greece, Cyprus, Israel and Italy are now cooperating under the aegis of the European Commission to bring this Mediterranean gas to Europe in an “East-Med-Pipeline”.

For the thirty years before the euro crisis, Greece wasted many opportunities in the energy sector. Now things are changing at last – to the credit of the current Greek government.

Exploration projects in the Ionian Sea and near Crete have now been authorized, and Total, ExxonMobil and Eni are investing.

What a pity that  Germany, did not see this vast investment potential during the euro crisis, when it – for that is how Greeks see it – punished Greece. Today, the smart money does not run from Greece but toward it, the Handelsblatt article concludes .