ATHENS Aug 21 Greece has asked the European
Commission to set up a backup plan to ensure liquefied natural
gas (LNG) is available for Balkan countries in the event of
potential disruptions to Russian gas supplies stemming from the
crisis in Ukraine.
In a letter sent to European Energy Commissioner Guenther
Oettinger, Greek Energy Minister Yannis Maniatis proposed an EU
emergency mechanism to ensure that surplus amounts of
lower-priced LNG are reserved for EU member states with gas
shortages instead of being sent to other destinations.
Russia cut off natural gas supplies to Ukraine on June 16 in
a dispute over unpaid bills, prompting concerns about possible
disruptions to flows of gas which transits Ukraine en route to
Greece imports about 60 percent of its natural gas from
Russia via Ukraine. It also imports gas from Azerbaijan through
Turkey and from a domestic LNG storage facility.
Maniatis warned on Wednesday that a serious disruption in
supplies to Europe was possible during the coming winter and
that Greece and other Balkan countries could be hit harder that
other EU markets.
"We have taken this initiative so that Europe launches a
joint solidarity mechanism, which will secure LNG supplies in
case of a stoppage," Maniatis told Reuters on Thursday.
The risk is that surplus LNG might be sent to Asia, Energy
Ministry officials have said.
(Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; editing by Jason Neely)