Greece is now officially a part of Russia big new gas plan

Putin tsiprasReuters/Alexander Zemlianichenko/PoolRussian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras attend a signing ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow, April 8, 2015.

Russia signed a preliminary $US2.27 billion (2 billion euro) agreement on building a pipeline through Greece, according toBloomberg.

The section of the Turkish Stream in Greece will have annual capacity of 47 billion cubic meters.

Construction will start in 2016 and is expected to be completed set for 2019, according to Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak.

Russia’s development bank will own 50% of the link and will do all of the financing, and Greece will own the rest. Russia’s Gazprom will not hold a stake in the section crossing Greece, according to Novak.

“The pipeline is not against anyone in Europe or the world,” Greek Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis in St. Petersburg. “It is here to serve people, peace and stability. Energy can bring people together and not feed Cold War situations.”

The Turkish Steam, a Gazprom project, was announced in January after the company abandoned the $US45 billion South Stream project in December. The project is expected to begin somewhere between June-July 2015.

Europe pipelinesReutersMap of Europe showing planned gas pipelines in the region. Includes proposed Gazprom pipeline to Europe through Turkey.

The key geopolitical takeaway regarding both projects is that they’re supposed to bypass crumbling Ukraine — which would allow Russia to both maintain its gas leverage over the EU and hurt Kiev.

“To help Gazprom reach Central European markets, Russia has advocated the construction of a pipeline that would run from Greece to Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary,” analysts from Texas-based consulting firm Stratfor wrote in a report, according to Bloomberg.

“These four countries are at the center of a Russian diplomatic offensive.”

Although some analysts have expressed doubts over the projects, “the Russians seem determined to let their transit contract with Ukraine expire by 2019 in favour of the alternative route under the Black Sea. Gazprom has already laid 472 kilometers (293 miles) of the so-called Southern Corridor, the onshore part of the pipeline in Russia, in anticipation of the deal,” according to Bloomberg.

Greece has been cozying up to Russia the last few months. Some analysts noted that a potential gas deal was a major factor behind the schmoozing.

“[A] new long-term gas deal to provide energy security for the fragile Greek economy and give the left-wing Syriza party an early win (at least in the eyes of the Greek electorate,” Business Insider’s Tomas Hirst wrote back in January after Greece took a stance against sanctions on Russia.

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