Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Why does the snowy Acropolis of Athens become a lighthouse showing the way to the gas suppliers to Southern Europe?

Several media, including Reuters, reported that in January Central and South East Europe suffered an atypical cold spell and snowstorms, unprecedented in the recent history, and parts of Greece was covered in rare snow with temperatures dipping to -20 degrees Celsius. Snow also fell in Athens. In the Greek town of Alonissos at Thessaly region 130 km North of Athens, a snow covering thickness reached over 2.5 m. There were enthusiastic comments in http://uk.businessinsider.com and some other websites that now the Acropolis in Greece looks like a winter wonderland. However, it is evident that Greek population as well as many tens of thousands of refugees seeking asylum in this country cannot be happy about the advent of "winter tale". When Greece is buried in deep snow, it more remind an image to match a verse drama "Hellas" by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Even the millennial history of Greece ever hardly heard of citizens in this southern, nowadays frozen country do ask Greek Santa Claus - Agios Vassilis for a Christmas gift to bring warmth into their homes this winter. While hoping for Agios Vassilis generosity now Greek people obviously must themselves better comprehend a tangle of new energy projects as well as the interplay of political intrigue around them especially distinguishing modern development of the energy market in South East Europe. It's almost like we're being forced by the freezing weather into more careful looking at the energy future of Greece.

Hellenic energy horizons - looking from the present towards the future

According to BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2016, Greece's energy supply comes mainly from fossil fuels – oil and coal. As shown in the graph below natural gas is the third largest energy source whose consumption amounted to 2.5 million tons of oil equivalent in 2015 or 9.5% of total energy consumption in Greece. In accordance with market trends in Europe, natural gas together with renewables will enhance their role in development of the Greek energy sector.

Meanwhile, the development of gas consumption in Greece followed the path that, as the graph above shows, resembles more a winding road on a steep mountain slope in Thessaly than an ascent to leading positions in the Greece’s energy market. In 2011 Greece experienced the highest level of gas consumption of 4.4 bcm but thereafter for three years it drastically dropped by about 38% till 2.7 – 2.8 bcm in 2014 - 2015.
Preliminary estimates suggest that in 2016 gas consumption in Greece demonstrated a notable progress. As reported by www.worldenergynews.gr, according to DEPA Group assessments, annual consumption of gas should exceed 4 bcm. Now the question is whether the gas distribution infrastructure in the domestic market of Greece is ready to handle further increase in gas demand. Moreover, of course, it is not only cold spells and snowstorms in winter generate this demand. Natural gas is equally necessary for heating and cooling during different seasons over a year because air conditioners are powered by electricity, which, largely, is produced from gas.

At the same time, there is another, even more complex and long-term questions: where should this energy marketable for all seasons come from? What kind of suppliers should fill in tomorrow the Greece's gas transport system?

--- -