09 January, 2006
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said on Saturday that the government was mulling the utilization of EU funding for replacement of the urban buses fleet with natural-gas powered buses, as he inaugurated a natural gas refueling station for ETHEL public transport buses in Anthoussa, the second in the Attica prefecture. The first such station is located in the Ano Liosia suburb of Athens.
The station, built and operated by DEPA, the Public Gas Corporation, is the largest of its kind in Europe and environment friendly, as its high-tech facilities ensure zero hydro-carbon emissions.
The project, which cost 4.9 million euros, was funded 25% by the European Regional Development Fund, another 25% through the Development Ministry's 'Competitiveness' operational program, and 50% by DEPA.
The station has a capacity of refueling up to 36 buses per hour, and a delivery capacity of 5,000 cubic meters of natural gas per hour.
Some 500 buses will be using the refueling station at Anthoussa, while 415 will be refueling at the Ano Liosia station.
Karamanlis said that, under the plan being examined, the replacement of the urban bus fleet would begin in the greater Athens are and Thessaloniki, and gradually spread to other cities throughout the country.
Also addressing the inauguration ceremony, development minister Dimitris Sioufas said that a study for extension of natural gas use to private cars would be completed by summer, while the prospect of purchasing natural gas-powered garbage pick-up trucks was also being examined.
Transport minister Michalis Liapis presented the program for extension of the mass transport networks for 2006.
Karamanlis speech: In his address, premier Karamanlis said that his New Democracy government has paved the way for the deep-rooted changes and reforms required by modern-day Greece in the sectors of the economy, the State, health, and education.
He said the focal point was the new energy policy introduced by the government, which contains infrastructure works, liberalization of the markets, and emphasis on more environmentally-friendly energy sources.
Karamanlis noted that long-pending issues concerning the construction of projects that would render Greece an energy hub -- such as the Burgas-Alexandropoulos oil pipeline, the Greece-Turkey and Greece-Italy natural gas pipelines, and the SE Europe energy community -- have been resolved in recent months.
Also, the institutional framework has been completed for the liberalization of the electricity and natural gas markets, while an open tender was being prepared, with guarantees of full transparency, for the production of electricity by private concerns, he said.
The prime minister explained that opportunities for large-scale investments by Greek and foreign investments were being created, with the basic target being to reduce the country's oil dependence, the conservation of energy, and the adoption of more environmentally-friendly forms of energy.
He added that the framework for biofuel has already been instituted, while soon a new framework would be introduced aimed at boosting investments in renewable energy sources.
Regarding natural gas, Karamanlis said the process has commenced of upgrading DEPA's liquefied natural gas station in Revythousa, which would ensure the country's safe supply with natural gas, while the natural gas network was also being extended to 13 more prefectures.
Karamanlis also commended work in that area accomplished by the preceding governments, stressing that his government acknowledges all the positive work carried out in previous years.
Source: Athens News Agency