Construction of EastMed Gas Pipeline Becomes Topical Again

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Image: Pixabay
Image: Pixabay

Geologist Avraam Zelilidis, a professor at the University of Patras and one of the advocates of this project, has recently told Hina that this project could save the Greeks since the continuation of fuel price hikes might push many citizens into extreme poverty.

For the sake of comparison, Greek companies are the most exposed in the EU to losses and bankruptcy due to the energy crunch, shows an analysis of the European Investment Bank (EIB). In Greece, the EIB’s analysis sees a 27.6% projected increase in the share of firms reporting losses.

Professor Zelilidis told Hina that in his opinion great reserves of natural gas and petroleum are also offshore Greece.

However, so far Greek authorities have seemed reticent about the project. At the first stage of the EastMed project, the EU could cover 10% of its energy needs in this way.

The reasons for reticence seem to be the opposition of Greek shipping companies that currently make a profit on the transport of the imported oil supplies. In addition, there are some environmental fears.

However, the head of the Nicosia-headquartered Isotech Ltd. Research and Consultancy, Xenia Loizidou, has told Hina that every gas pipeline poses a risk to the marine environment but in this case, the issue is no longer environmental but political.

Profesor Zelilidis says that at the later stages this gas pipeline could meet 40% of the EU’s needs for gas supplies.

The idea of the EastMed project was supported by the European Commission nine years ago as the Project of Common Interest (PCI).

In 2019, Greece, Cyprus and Israel signed a Tel Aviv agreement on the matter.

The project is being developed by IGI Poseidon, a 50:50 joint venture between the Public Gas Corporation of Greece (DEPA) and Italy’s Edison International Holding.

In 2020, Italy confirmed its interest in having a branch of the pipeline passing through its territory.

However, there has been some opposition from Turkey to the project as Ankara complains that the selected pipeline route bypasses the long Turkish coastline to deliver gas from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe. Turkey also alleges that the pipeline project ignores its equal rights over the natural resources in Cypriot territorial waters.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has made all routes that can reduce dependence on Russian fossil fuels topical again.

New geopolitical and energy market reality

In light of the new geopolitical and energy market reality, on 15 June in Cairo, European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson, together with the competent Egyptian and Israeli ministers signed a trilateral Memorandum of Understanding between the EU, Egypt and Israel for the export of natural gas to Europe.

During her participation in the Three Seas Initiative summit meeting in Riga, Commissioner Simson noted that the initial project of the EastMed could be altered, and in this context she mentioned the Aphrodite gas field, the first gas field to be discovered and granted a production license in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, offshore Cyprus.

There is a possibility for the Aphrodite gas field, after it starts operating, to be connected to Egypt and that LNG supplies are then transported to Europe, said Simson in Riga, noting that the construction of the pipeline could take more time. 

Croatia and Cyprus can assist in Europe’s energy independence

During his visit to Cyprus in mid-May, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovič met with said that President Nicos Anastasiades, who said that Cyprus can help the European Union achieve energy independence. Plenković underscored that the LNG terminal on Krk Island would have a big role in that.

The two officials discussed the energy crisis in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Anastasiades spoke about energy interconnection projects in the eastern Mediterranean, between north Africa and Europe, and about the EastMed gas pipeline which should connect Cyprus with Europe via Greece.

That island state has in recent years discovered significant offshore gas deposits, and the proposed project is still being analyzed to test its economic feasibility, said Anastasiades.

It can help Europe’s energy diversification, he told a news conference.

Addressing the news conference in Nicosia, Plenković underlined that the LNG terminal on Krk Island would have a significant role in achieving Europe’s energy security. Thought is being given currently to increasing its capacity and not just for Croatia but for the needs of countries in Central Europe, he said.

Croatia can become an energy hub in the north Adriatic for gas and oil, said Plenković. He underscored on that occasion that Europe has to find a new, long-term sustainable alternative to Russia’s energy products at an affordable price.

For more, check out our politics section.


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