Greece's Gastrade sees decision on second LNG terminal this year

(Reuters) - Greece's Gastrade said on Thursday it expects to take a final investment decision on developing a second gas floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) off the country's northern port of Alexandroupolis by the end of the year.

With Europe racing to cut its reliance on Russian gas in the wake of the war in Ukraine, Greece is slowly becoming a key transit route for LNG in southeastern Europe.

Last year, Athens replaced much of Russian pipeline gas by ramping up deliveries of liquefied natural gas (LNG), mainly from the United States, via its sole LNG facility west of Athens.

Gastrade is already developing its first LNG terminal - a ship which will be converted to a FSRU - to moor off Alexandroupolis by the end of the year. The planned new FSRU nearby, with a capacity to regasify about 10 MM3m of LNG annually, was estimated to cost about €500 MM ($530.85 MM), Gastrade managing director Kostis Sifnaios told Reuters.

The investment decision is seen coming "towards the end of 2023" once the company secures capacity booking contracts with users and financing, he said.

"Right now, it's obvious that there has been a very big supply gap. There is Ukraine, which we don't know what needs will have post-war and there has been already a clear shift by all the countries of the region to wean off Russian gas," Sifnaios said.

The company is looking to cover demand from Ukraine and Moldova. Gas from that terminal could reach Ukraine through a now defunct bi-directional Trans-Balkan pipeline, which used to carry Russian gas to Romania, Bulgaria and Greece, Sifnaios said.

He added that the company was on track to have its first FSRU ready for commercial operation by the end of the year.

"By the end of June, we will be done with the installation of the pipeline, both the undersea and the onshore section, and a second operation will begin in October when all anchorage will be placed, with a view to having the ship coming as a floating terminal in November," Sifnaios said.

(Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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