A/S Pyatt: — Thanks Nico, Capital Link organizers. Minister Skrekas, Minister Georgiadis, Minister Staikouras.
It’s great to be back here at Capital Link and back among friends and colleagues to discuss the challenges and opportunities we’re seeing in the global energy sector.
During my time in Athens, I witnessed firsthand and supported Greece’s emergence as an important energy hub for the whole region, a leader in initiatives like the 3+1 and the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum, and an essential partner for the United States and U.S. businesses.
During that time we saw the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, the Interconnector-Greece Bulgaria, and expanded Revithoussa terminal all come online.
In a few more years, the Alexandroupoli FSRU and Interconnector Greece-North Macedonia will create new entry points for natural gas, further reducing Russia’s ability to use its gas resources for malign purposes.
At the same time, Greece is playing an important role as a European leader on the energy transition, with its rapid expansion of clean energy and support for electricity interconnections within the region.
This is important because our success in implementing an energy transition and building a more sustainable energy system is what will ultimately be the source of security. Energy security and energy transition are mutual reinforcing objectives.
To advance these objectives, I’m now building on the work we did in Greece to strengthen international partnerships, augment the role of our private sector partners and build relationships with local and regional entities.
Greece, the United States, and our European partners will have many opportunities to collaborate on decarbonizing the shipping
industry, improving supply chain transparency, and building a new hydrogen economy, to name just three.
The United States and our partners are also working together on the immediate challenge of Russia’s brutal and unprovoked war on Ukraine and its effects in Europe in particular.
Putin’s weaponization of energy commodities has led Europe to rapidly and I believe permanently decouple from Russian energy.
In light of all of this, my first priority as ENR Assistant Secretary has been on our European energy security agenda given the urgency of the situation in Europe and the linkages to America’s national security and our global interests.
Over the last nine months, we have collectively marshalled our public and private resources to help fill a Russia-sized hole in the European energy market.
The United States has become the largest LNG exporter to Europe. With fire damaged capacity from Freeport LNG coming back on-line this month, the U.S. is on track to reach record exports shortly into the new year.
Growing U.S. LNG shipments to Europe, increased energy efficiency, and flexibility from countries like Greece and Bulgaria are keeping the lights on in allied countries. Europe has responded quickly to prepare for this winter, but Russia’s actions mean the next few winters will also be difficult.
At least ten new FSRUs in Europe in the coming years, including the Alexandroupoli FSRU, will add more import capacity and more opportunities to diversify the continent’s natural gas supplies.
Since November, I have also been leading a U.S. government coordination effort with our partners and allies to respond to Russia’s brutal wave of attacks on Ukraine’s civilian energy infrastructure and help Ukrainians persevere through the winter.
In Romania last week, with our G7+ allies, Secretary Blinken announced that the United States is providing over $53 million to support Ukraine’s emergency acquisition of critical energy grid equipment such as transformers, circuit breakers, surge arresters.
I was able to discuss this effort also with Foreign Minister Dendias in Bucharest and I’m grateful that Greece is considering its possible support.
As the war in Ukraine continues, it’s critical that we take steps to limit Russia’s revenues from energy which goes directly to fund this war.
Over the course of the last several months, a coalition that includes the EU, G7, and Australia has worked together to design a price cap mechanism that would allow Russian crude oil sold below the price cap to be exempt from the maritime services ban, which came into effect on December 5th.
This will reduce the revenue available to support the Kremlin’s war machine, which has displaced millions, killed thousands and destroyed many thousands of buildings including homes, schools, hospitals and Orthodox churches.
The United States, EU, and other G7 countries have already committed to phasing out our purchases of Russian oil and are working to help non-EU countries to diversify energy resources away from Russia.
I firmly believe we’ve passed the moment of peak Russia. Russia’s highest fossil fuel revenue came in 2021. It will never recover the status it had as a reliable energy supplier to world markets. The IEA, in its Global Energy Outlook, predicts that Russia’s fossil fuel revenues will be down by about 50 percent by the end of this decade.
As we navigate the current crisis, there is one major lesson emerging: The volatility and uncertainty this terrible war has caused have increased global commitment to the clean energy transition, for climate, economic, and security reasons.
As Russia’s actions have increased market volatility, renewable power has become more attractive. This is borne out in the IEA’s Renewables 2022 report, which predicts a tremendous surge in renewable energy installations over the next five years — a jump of 85 percent more capacity than what was added over the past five years.
This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. It will require unprecedented investment, both public and private, and it will create new commercial and employment opportunities.
The U.S. has passed landmark domestic legislation, including the Inflation Reduction Act, the CHIPS Act, and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which will super-charge investment in clean energy technologies and infrastructure and will benefit economies at home and abroad.
These laws strongly complement Greece’s green agenda utilizing the EU’s Recovery and Resilience funds.
The IRA in particular will create fantastic opportunities for European companies, building on the investments they are already making in the United States.
For example, at Sparrow’s Point in Baltimore, US Wind, the American subsidiary of a European firm, is transforming an old shipyard into a plant for the fabrication, welding, and molding of offshore wind turbine components.
There is a Greek connection to this project. Hellenic Cables is moving ahead, also at Sparrow’s Point, with a major greenfield investment to develop a subsea cable manufacturing project. The facility will support the development of our offshore wind sector and U.S. grid expansion needed to achieve the Biden administration’s ambitious energy targets set for 2030 and beyond.
Two big Danish power companies –- Vestas and Ørsted –- are expanding operations here in the United States, also based on the incentives that the IRA has provided.
Looking forward, we’ll many other opportunities to collaborate on decarbonization of sectors such as global shipping, an industry that is so important to Athens and to Greece’s international identity.
I am also very proud of the role that American companies are playing in Greece’s energy transition.
Texas-based 547, which is here with us today, is now the largest licensed wind power operator in Greece.
Boston-based Advent Technologies is leading a project in Central Macedonia focused on green hydrogen.
I know there will be many more of these collaborations for energy transition in the years ahead. It’s hard to predict today exactly what the future European energy system will look like.
A decade ago, nobody would have predicted the invasion of Ukraine, the American shale gas revolution, or the dramatic reduction in the marginal cost of renewable energy infrastructure. But Russia’s actions mean that the coming decade will be more complicated.
Two things are certain. The energy transition is happening and our international partnerships will be more important than ever. I know Greece will continue playing a leading role among America’s European energy partners, and I know the United States will continue to invest strongly in our transatlantic energy relationships.
Thank you very much. Efcharisto poli.