Ukraine and Moldova – both urgently seeking alternatives to Russian gas – are to join the regional ‘Vertical Corridor’ supplying Central and Southeast Europe with gas from Azerbaijan via a hub in Greece.
Moldova and Ukraine are to be included in the natural gas Vertical Corridor of Central and South-Eastern Europe, which links Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary.
At the Ministerial Conference of the states participating in the Central and South-East European Connectivity, CESEC, scheduled for Thursday and Friday, the two countries will sign a Memorandum of Understanding on their entry into the project.
As a result, the gas transmission system operators of Ukraine and Moldova – GTSOU and Vestmoldtransgaz – should become official members of the Vertical Gas Corridor in mid-January.
New infrastructure will interconnect pipelines in Greece and those beyond its northern border. Via pipelines or LNG terminals, natural gas will reach Bulgaria, Romania, North Macedonia, Serbia, Moldova, Ukraine, Hungary and Slovakia.
A new floating storage and regasification unit at Alexandroupoli in Greece is due to enter commercial operations in March.
The Vertical Corridor concept is not a traditional single pipeline project but a system connectingh existing national gas grids and other gas infrastructure to secure easy gas transiting and so contribute to energy security.
Greece will become a regional gas transit hub, receiving gas from Azerbaijan by land through the Vertical Corridor through four operators from Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary.
Gas can then be transferred to other countries from multiple entries and exit points and different supply sources The primary purpose of the Corridor is to offer Europe alternative routes and suppliers to Russia – in the context of continued war in Ukraine and the EU`s wish to bypass older gas pipelines routes to Europe through which Russian gas was delivered before the Ukraine war.
In December 2023, Azerbaijan announced that it was on target to double gas exports to Europe by 2027.
Until last year, Moldova was 100-per-cent dependent on gas from Russian energy giant Gazprom. The situation changed diametrically with he Russian invasion of Ukraine but also after a series of crises and threats from Gazprom to stop supplies of gas to Moldova if it does not comply with draconian conditions and the high price set by Moscow.
Currently, Russian gas is being delivered only to Moldova’s breakaway Transnistrian region. The Kremlin-loyal secessionist regime there now owes Gazprom almost 10 billion US dollars – which Moscow does not seek to recover, as free Russian gas has kept Transnistria afloat for over 30 years.