by George Georgakopoulos
ATHENS, June 9 (Xinhua) -- Greece aspires to become a regional marine bunkering and distribution hub for liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the Eastern Mediterranean through the European Union co-funded "Poseidon Med II" project, according to local officials.
The 53.3-million-euro international project started in June 2015 and is scheduled to conclude in the end of 2020. It offers a roadmap for the extensive adoption of LNG as propulsion fuel for vessels in Greece, Italy and Cyprus with the participation of six ports: Venice in Italy, Piraeus, Patra, Iraklio and Igoumenitsa in Greece, and Limassol in Cyprus. It also involves the LNG terminal on Revythoussa island, off the Athens coast.
In late May, Greek Shipping Panagiotis Kouroumplis presented the draft presidential decree that sets out for the first time the framework for the expansion of LNG use in Greece.
"We are very satisfied with the outcome of our cooperation with the ministry and the other partners, as this draft presidential decree was borne out of processing our proposals and constitutes the tangible implementation of the project's objectives," Dimitris Spyrou, Strategic Planning and Marketing Consultant at Piraeus Port Authority (OLP), told Xinhua this week.
Piraeus Port, Greece's largest port and a landmark Sino-Greek cooperation in the country, stands to benefit greatly from the introduction of LNG bunkering, as its proximity to the Revythoussa hub means ship-to-ship transfer is possible even without the need to build storage facilities, Spyrou explained.
Poseidon Med II's drafting of an integrated and efficient LNG supply chain in the region has aroused interest of other ports that are not part of the project yet, such as the central Greek port of Volos.
"We applied for inclusion in 2016, conducted and tabled a study last year and expect its assessment within 2018," Volos Port Organization President Thrasyvoulos Stavridopoulos told Xinhua.
The project is primarily run by Greece's Public Gas Corporation (DEPA). The company's Head of Commercial Division Stelios Bikos explained to Xinhua that it is instrumental to the country's gas industry.
"DEPA has 20 years of experience in gas distribution and considers itself capable of managing the infrastructures and commercial aspects involved in the project," he said, noting that Poseidon Med II doubtlessly also offers added value to DEPA ahead of its planned privatization.