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U.S. Backs EastMed Pipeline To Supply Gas To Europe

The United States supports the EastMed pipeline project that is expected to deliver natural gas from offshore Israel via Greece and Cyprus to the wider European market, U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette said during a visit to Greece on Thursday.

"We are going to continue to work with Israel, Greece and other interested parties to ensure that the infrastructure will be developed," Secretary Brouillette told reporters, as carried by Reuters.

The planned EastMed pipeline, for which a final investment decision is expected in 2022, is expected to deliver around 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas to the European Union (EU) through Greece and Italy. The EU backs the project as a means to diversify its natural gas imports away from Russia. The EastMed project is expected to meet some 10-15 percent of the EU's projected natural gas needs.  

"Greece and its neighbors are redrawing the energy map of southeastern Europe through a variety of major projects like the recently completed TAP and making progress on renewables, e-mobility, and wind power," Secretary Brouillette tweeted from Athens today.

We are committed to supporting projects like TAP, Alexandroupoli FSRU, Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB), and Greece's role in East Med Gas Forum, Secretary Brouillette added.

TAP, the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, another route of diversification from Russian gas, started commercial operations last month.

For the EastMed pipeline project, Israel, Greece, and Cyprus signed early this year an agreement to build the infrastructure, aiming for a final investment decision in 2022 and for pipeline completion by 2025.

Last year, after the U.S.-Greece strategic dialogue, the United States and Greece said in a joint statement:

"The Greek and U.S. governments acknowledged the potential of the proposed EastMed gas pipeline to contribute to the energy security and diversification of energy sources and routes in the Eastern Mediterranean."

"Greece and the United States acknowledged that the discovery and future exploitation of significant hydrocarbon fields in the Eastern Mediterranean are of vital importance for the stability of the region and can actively contribute to the EU's energy diversification strategy," Greece and the U.S. said in October 2019.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on December 18 2020 said:
    Despite backing from the United States, the EastMed gas pipeline which is expected to deliver Israeli and Cypriot gas exports to the European Union (EU) via Greece and Italy may never see the light of day. The reasons are Turkey’s opposition to it, cost and capacity in addition to Egypt’s reluctance to accept it.

    The planned EastMed pipeline for which a final investment decision is expected in 2022, is expected to deliver around 10 billion cubic meters (bcm) or 10%-15% of EU’s projected gas needs if built. The EU backs the project as a means to diversify its natural gas imports away from Russia.

    Turkey opposes it because it believes it could undermine its position as the energy hub of Europe by competing with the Turk Stream pipeline bringing Russian gas supplies to Turkey and the EU under the Black Sea and also the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) bringing Caspian gas from Azerbaijan to Turkey and then to the EU via the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP).

    Egypt doesn’t want it since it hopes to receive increasing volumes of both Israeli and Cypriot gas at its two LNG terminals in Damietta and Idku for conversion to LNG and re-exporting along with Egypt’s own LNG to the Asia-Pacific region.

    Then there is the matter of construction cost. The EastNed stretching over a distance of 1900 km is estimated to cost $7 bn. If we judge its viability, Cyprus on its own couldn’t muster enough gas to fill the EastMed annual throughput capacity of 20 bcm. Israel has already signed a deal for Israeli gas exports to be sent to Egypt for conversion to LNG and re-exporting. Moreover, Turkey will never allow the Greek Cypriots to produce more gas let alone export it without securing a share for the Turkish Cypriots.

    And to confirm its solid opposition to the EastMed, Turkey is planning to build its own undersea gas pipeline connecting its mainland with Northern Cyprus. The proposed pipeline’s length is 80 kilometres and it should start pumping gas by 2025. Its main goal is to lower the Turkish Cypriots’ energy bill by exporting gas from north to south, but the pipeline’s reverse-flow feature also allows the export of natural gas to the mainland.

    Turkey’s dual-use pipeline is much shorter than EastMed and could connect to largely existing infrastructure on the mainland. Israeli and Cypriot gas exports could in the future be exported to the EU via Turkey using the proposed Turkish pipeline once a settlement of the Eastern Mediterranean conflict has been reached.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London

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