Greece on Tuesday started construction of its first liquefied natural gas (LNG) floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) terminal in the northern city of Alexandroupolis, reported Xinhua.
The project, which is expected to be completed and operational by early 2024, was hailed by European Union (EU) officials as a significant step in strengthening Europe's energy security and independence.
"This project that we inaugurate today sends a clear signal: we are taking our destiny into our own hands," European Council President Charles Michel said, addressing the event that was carried live by Greek national broadcaster ERT.
The new terminal is a geopolitical investment that will help Europe diversify its gas imports and phase out dependence on Russian fossil fuels in the wake of the Ukraine-Russia crisis, he said.
"Within the next 20 months, Greece will be able to receive significant, much-increased quantities of liquefied natural gas. Greek LNG stations will be able to fully cover not only the national market, but also to replace a significant part of the supply of Russian gas to the Balkans," Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.
He also described the terminal as a new energy gateway for Greece, the Balkans and southeastern Europe.
Once completed, the terminal, which is a key part of the Alexandroupolis Independent Natural Gas System (INGS), will have an annual capacity of 5.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year, according to data provided by the Greek government.
Some 166.7 million euros out of the total 363.7 million euros allocated to the project are EU funds, according to a Greek government press release.