ATHENS – US Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt said on December 4 that Greece would be the third European country to begin importing American liquefied natural gas (LNG), after Poland and Lithuania.

Speaking at the Greek Economy conference organised by the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Athens, the American diplomat said the Greek government has promised to import LNG from the United States.

“Energy is an obvious area of growth. There is clear interest from American companies, and I’m also encouraged that there is such a convergence between US and Greek policy views on this critical sector,” Pyatt said.

The US diplomat reminded that US President Donald Trump and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras discussed during the latter’s visit to Washington DC, America’s “commitment and optimism” for the Greek energy sector as a way to accelerate the Mediterranean country’s economic recovery. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also highlighted this energy issue during his speech on European policy at the Wilson Center last week.

“Greece is at the tipping point in terms of establishing itself as a major European energy hub,” Pyatt said, citing natural gas projects like the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), the Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU) in Alexandroupolis, the upgraded Revithousa terminal and the Greece Bulgaria Interconnector (IGB) as examples of Greece’s energy potential.

“You also see it in upstream projects now moving forward, in the hydrocarbon sector, but also renewables where we have increased interest recently from big American companies like General Electric (GE),” the US Ambassador said.

“I was very glad to hear European Commission Vice President (for Energy Union Maroš) Šefčovič’s remarks at the recent Greek Energy Forum here in Athens. Our speeches were nearly mirror images of each other and showed the real convergence of interests on energy issues between Europe and the US. We agreed on the importance of energy diversification, on Greece’s regional role, and a point that the Prime Minister made in the US, which is that, in looking at energy diversification in Europe, almost every major new energy route coming into Europe will pass through Greece,” Pyatt said, adding that the policies and practices that the Greek government will put into place are critical not just for this country but for the larger vision of European energy security and diversification.

“The IGB Interconnector for instance, has the potential to open up the whole Balkan energy island, using Greece as the entry point to get away from the current dependence on monopoly suppliers that characterises many of the Balkan countries,” said Pyatt, who has advocated the need for the EU to lessen Europe’s dependence on gas supplies from Russia’s Gazprom.