Greece, Cyprus, Israel Sign EastMed Gas Pipeline Deal To Ease Reliance On Russia

  • By Editor
  • 01 08
  • 2020

By Itzhak Rabihiya


EastMed Gas Pipeline Agreement Signed at Trilateral Summit between PM Benjamin Netanyahu, Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Cypriot Pres. Nicos Anastasiades

Greece, Cyprus, and Israel have signed an agreement to construct 1,900-kilometer undersea pipeline to carry natural gas from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe and potentially help the continent reduce its dependency on Russia for energy supplies. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiades attended the January 2 ceremony in Athens to seal the accord for the so-called EastMed project.

The deal comes as Russia prepares to start pumping gas this year through two new pipelines to Europe -- TurkStream and Nord Stream 2. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan are scheduled to launch TurkStream on January 8.The three Med Stream governments will next put the project out for bids from private investors for financing.

The countries hope to reach a final investment decision by 2022 and aim to have the pipeline completed by 2025. European governments and Israel agreed last year to proceed with the project, valued at up to $7 billion.It is expected initially to carry 10 billion cubic meters of gas annually from Israeli and Cypriot waters to the Greek island of Crete. It would then move on to the Greek mainland and into Europe's gas network through Italy.

Turkey has opposed the EastMed pipeline, saying it would not allow these types of projects without its participation or approval in the eastern Mediterranean.

Ankara also accused the three countries of attempting to encircle Turkey. Greece and Cyprus have a long history of bitterness with Turkey, and Israel has also had difficulties with Ankara. The United States and the European Union support the project, with Washington often stressing the need for Europe to become less dependent on Russia for natural gas supplies.

Officials have also said they hope the deal could help spur additional investment in the natural gas sector in the Middle East.

The rival Turk Stream project will carry a maximum of 31.5 billion cubic meters of Russian gas annually to Turkey. Some of the gas will be exported further to Europe through Greece .Russia expects to launch Nord Stream 2 to Germany through the Baltic Sea by the end of the year. The EastMed pipeline would potentially compete for Balkan gas markets with Turk Stream.

This inter-governmental agreement is pursuant to the 2017 MOU and the subsequent preliminary feasibility study. The agreement anchors the commitment of the three countries to the establishment of the project.


Prime Minister Netanyahu said "This is a historic day for Israel, because Israel is rapidly becoming an energy superpower, a country that exports energy. Just days ago, we opened the Leviathan gas field, and it is producing enormous yields. But with the exportation that will become possible via this pipeline, we will be able to provide hundreds of billions of shekels in revenue to the citizens of Israel—for their welfare, for health, for the young people and the elderly, for everyone. This is an extraordinary development.



Attached photo credit: Haim Zach (GPO)





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