Speech of the Minister of Environment and Energy, Mr. Kostis Hatzidakis at the Economist Conference entitled “An Energy Hub in SE Europe”
Thank you Mr. Chairman, and thank you to the organizers for inviting me in this important event. It is indeed a pleasure to address this distinguished audience. This is my first policy address, so I hope you prove to be “gourlides” a good luck charm for me and God knows I need one given the magnitude of the challenges before us.
During the austerity years many journalists were quick to characterize the seat of the Minister of Finance as an electric chair. Well, you may want to add another electric chair in the cabinet.
Although the salvation of PPC and the strategic privatization processes for HELPE and DEPA will be at the top of my domestic policy agenda, I intend to treat International Energy Policy matters as a vital priority under my close personal supervision. After all the Ministry of Energy is a miniature (or second) Ministry of Foreign Affairs and I intend in close cooperation with my good colleague Mr. Dendias to enhance and expand the role and influence of Greece in regional energy matters with a particular focus on the Eastern Mediterranean and on Southeastern Europe.
The roots of all foreign energy policy are domestic and relate to the principal parameters of a country’s energy balance. For a country like Greece whose total primary energy supply is constantly negative and 68% dependent on imported hydrocarbons, the principal priority of its foreign energy policy is and will remain the optimization of its energy security through the availability of strategic stockpiling and import diversification.
Unfortunately, despite the recent progress made in the field of upstream exploration and production since 2011, we are still several years away from having any significant production output that will change this negative supply balance. Οur strategic oil reserves are able to provide us– within the context of the IEA and the EU- with an adequate level of security in times of potential crisis. It is important to note though that the natural gas equivalent of our national energy strategy needs to be enhanced beyond the storage capabilities of the Revythousa LNG import terminal.
In terms of our import diversification strategy, our policy will remain focused on expanding both our import sources and our import routes within the context of the EU’s evolving energy security strategy. The implementation and promotion of long-term energy infrastructure projects which will help us to better mitigate our domestic energy insecurity will be at the epicenter of our efforts.
The completion of TAP and IGB, the promotion of new LNG import infrastructure, the promotion of IGI Poseidon, the implementation of the East Med Gas Pipeline and the consolidation of our strategic partnership with our traditional energy suppliers describe some of my top international policy priorities.
These projects will help Greece achieve the goal of its emergence as a regional energy hub, provided that we also fully liberalize our domestic gas market.
The Eastern Mediterranean which can evolve as a major new source of natural gas supply for the EU and Greece will be a core priority and our government will play a leading role in the formation of the region’s first-ever energy organization, the East Med Gas Forum (EMGF).
On July 24th – 25th I will lead the Greek delegation to the second ministerial meeting of the EMGF where we will shape with the other participating governments the future of this important new organization.
At the same time, we will focus our attention on expanding the role of Renewable Energy Electricity, and alternative fuels, especially electrification, in our energy mix. Expanding the importance of RES in our energy supply is not only environmentally sound; it constitutes a core energy security priority that will limit our complete dependence on imported fuels.
Achieving this goal is also linked to ending the electricity isolation of our islands, most importantly Crete, and develop through private investment and PPP partnerships the necessary infrastructure that will unleash the renewable electricity potential of both mainland and island Greece, creating in the process thousands of new jobs.
In this context it is very important to secure the timely construction of the electricity interconnector between Crete with Attica, a national priority of the highest importance and urgency.
For us energy is a catalyst for economic development, job creation and technological innovation.
For us energy policy is foreign policy as we seek to enhance and expand our international synergies helping our country to emerge as a pillar of stability, security and prosperity throughout out turbulent region.
For us energy is a major investment “magnet”.
Mobilizing and attracting Private investment is a precondition for any successful energy strategy. So, I am very eager to hear the views of some of the leading energy entrepreneurs active in our country.