The U.S Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources, and former ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey Pyatt, said the Greek energy sector is full of opportunities, emphasizing that country’s position on the new “energy map” is absolutely pivotal, in an interview with TA NEA Weekend.

In the interview, taken within the context of the Economist’s “Fifth New York – Eastern Mediterranean Business Summit”, the U.S official warns of the many challenges the planet is facing, and the vital significance of efforts undertaken by Western countries to achieve energy independence from Russian fossil fuels, including the role of Greek energy.

Some of the key points of the interview:

How do you view the cooperation with Greece in the energy sector? How crucial is the role of Greek energy investments for the region?

Putin’s brutal war against Ukraine has transformed the energy map of Southeastern Europe, and Greece is at this crossroads – a position strengthened by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ courageous visit to Odessa in March.

With the operation of the Alexandroupolis FSRU – using U.S. LNG as a test cargo – Greece’s liquefied natural gas import capacity effectively doubled overnight. Greece’s LNG import and regasification capacity remains absolutely vital for the region and forms the basis for the next visionary project in the region’s energy development – the Vertical Corridor. Utilizing existing infrastructure from Greece to Ukraine, the Vertical Corridor will enable LNG imported through Greece to fill Ukraine’s vast storage tanks, providing a new source of natural gas for Central Europe and the Western Balkans and helping to reduce price volatility in the process. It will also be crucial for the EU’s efforts to fully disconnect from Russian gas by 2027.

How does today’s geopolitical crisis affect the global energy transition?

In the past two years, energy security and energy transition have been at the center of many diplomatic commitments. President Biden stated that “energy security is national security,” while climate change is a priority for both national security and foreign policy. The planet faces numerous challenges simultaneously: Russia’s aggressive war against Ukraine – including the intensified targeted strikes on Ukraine’s energy sector since March 22 – and the weaponization of energy resources, instability in the Middle East resulting from the war between Israel and Hamas, disruptions in key shipping routes in the Red Sea, and more.

What needs to happen for most Western countries to ‘wean off’ Russian energy sources?

Through mechanisms like the U.S.-EU Energy Council, we are working to support European efforts to end their dependency on Russian fossil fuels by diversifying energy supply, reducing demand, and increasing supply while promoting the transition to clean energy. Europe’s shift away from Russian energy has progressed much faster than anticipated and marks a permanent change in the international energy landscape. Russia will never again be considered a reliable energy supplier. With the help of our partners in the U.S. supply market, we continue to support Europeans through LNG exports, which have helped the EU reach record levels of natural gas storage.

The United States aims to halt the development of Russia’s energy sector. How can this be achieved?

Our sanctions are designed to degrade Russia’s future energy production and export capabilities while avoiding disruption to global energy markets. We have no strategic interest in reducing global production, which would only drive up energy prices worldwide and increase Putin’s profits. However, we and our allies share a strong interest in diminishing Russia’s position as a leading energy supplier over time to ensure that Moscow can never again use its energy resources as a tool of coercion. Our approach forces Putin to either sell his oil below the price cap or face high costs for exporting it through alternative routes.