FROM THE VARANGIANS TO THE GREEKS: Critical infrastructures interconnector

In 1976 Richard Dawkins has coined the name of ‘meme’ for the mind entities that generate collective behaviour and change, similar to the evolution, induced by genes. Looking at the latest years we think that there was a sort of collective behaviour in concentrating on the East – West direction for gas pipelines under the meme name of ‘the silk road’. This is a good thing as long as one keeps in mind the big picture. The choice of TAP versus Nabucco has contributed to break the almost collective obsession of Nabucco from the last few years. Let’s get two steps back and look at the map of the ‘silk road’. There are several areas of North – South crossing roads: one is the Russian Federation to China, in the East; another one is the Norway to EU and the North Africa to EU in the West.

Looking at the change of energy paradigm in the World today one may identify another North – South road, in East Europe. This is not a new road since the history mentions in this part of the World ‘the road from the Varangians to the Greeks’ – very popular at the end of the first millennium.

Directive 2008/114/CE defines gas critical infrastructures along with other critical ones. The security of these critical infrastructures needs interconnectors (pipelines) that will be able to transport gas both ways. The discovery of non-conventional (shale and offshore) gas reserves in Poland, Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria associated with the potential opening of both the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean and Black Sea for LNG imports from all over the World (e.g. Qatar, USA) supplies new gas sources for the countries on this ‘road’. Along with partial imports in the mentioned countries there is a need for gas in Finland, the Baltic States and Greece, leading to full imports. Diversification would be welcomed in order to increase security of supply.

The table shows an interesting story i.e. that with the unconventional reserves the region may substantially extend its gas supply availability and its overall energy security.

Maybe it is time to take a 90 degrees rotation from the East – West line in this region and think of an interconnector of gas critical infrastructures along the old road from the Varangians to the Greeks.

Finally, it is important to notice that such an interconnector should not be seen as an isolated project but included in the EU and international gas pipes network. Its main role is to increase security of supply in the region and through this to allow better competition with the associated effect on prices. To make such a project a reality a joint effort is needed to generate credibility which further on will attract the investments. It may not be easy but we think it would be worth trying.

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October 2014

June 2017