The EU approved the European Commission's proposal for investment of 444 million euros in European priority energy projects, according to a European Commission report. It includes about 18 projects in the gas industry, the electricity sector, and smart networks.
About a tenth of the money will be spent on electricity projects: 40.25 million euros will be provided by the EU for the implementation of the German project Suedlink (laying underground cables for power transmission from the north to the south of Germany). 90 million euros will receive an innovative energy storage project with the help of compressed air in the salt mines in Northern Ireland.
Most will go to gas projects. The EU will support the construction of an LNG terminal on the Croatian island of Krk. 102 million euros will be allocated for the project. The terminal is designed for 6 billion cubic meters of gas per year. Completion is expected before the end of 2019. The terminal will help to diversify supplies, improve energy security and competitive prices in the region. For example, Hungary and the Balkan countries will be able to gain access to the Croatian gas. Hungary in 2016 bought from Gazprom 5.5 billion cubic meters (5.7% less than in 2015). Among the Balkan countries, Slovakia buys the most Russian gas (3.7 billion cu. m in 2016, 3% less than in 2015).
The EU is also ready to invest about 123 million euros in the pipeline projects: gas pipelines between Slovakia and Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary on Eastring project; Poland - Slovakia interconnector; gas pipeline from Greece to Italy via Albania (TAP). TAP is part of the Southern Gas Corridor, energy project worth more than $40 billion for the transportation from Shah Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan to Europe via Turkey. Gazprom has a project for the supply of gas in South and Central Europe, Turkish Stream. The Russian exporter is ready to extend the pipeline to supply Europe.
But reducing of dependence from Gazprom is one of the aims of the EU's energy strategy, the analyst Alexander Kornilov at Aton says. LNG terminals have been already commissioned in Lithuania and Poland. But so far the North American LNG goes mainly to the premium Asian market. In the future, with the growth of LNG from Australia, the European market will be more attractive, but the positions of Gazprom are still strong, adds Kornilov.
In 2016 lower gas prices and a cold winter helped Gazprom to sell to Europe and Turkey a record 180 billion cubic meters; its share in the structure of consumption also was a record: 34%. "In 2017, to reach a new record will be hard, if there's no cold winter," Kornilov said.