Greece, Israel and Cyprus today signed an agreement to construct an undersea pipeline for transferring natural gas from overseas areas in the eastern Mediterranean to Europe, a project that would ease the energy dependence of the European Union on Russia.
But Turkey has been unhappy with the deal. Though an energy importer, on its way to Europe, Turkey is a crucial transit nation for Russian gas supplies, giving Turkey leverage over Europe. New European energy supply sources undermine this influence.
The 1,300-mile “EastMed pipeline” would link recently discovered gas fields under the south-eastern Mediterranean seafloor to Greece, and from Greece to an oil pipeline hub in Italy that feeds Europe. The EastMed line is estimated to cost around € 6 billion, providing about 4 per cent, or an initial 10 billion cubic meters, of the annual gas imports of the European Union. Currently, EU countries meet about 40% of their gas import needs from Russia.
After a briefing in Athens between Israeli caretaker prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, representatives signed the agreement. EastMed will not be finished until the mid-2020s. Its owner, IGI Poseidon, a joint venture consisting of Greek state-owned supplier Depa and Italian gas utility Edison, said it would make a final investment decision in two years ‘ time in December.
In recent years, Europe’s energy dependence has been slightly curbed by rapidly increasing exports of natural gas from the United States. (Natural gas can be stored as a liquid onboard tanker when cooled to approximately-260 ° Fahrenheit before being converted to gas.) But that still leaves Europe, which lacks significant gas resources on its own, heavily dependent on imports from Russia and other countries such as Norway and Qatar.
The European Union agrees that EastMed is essential to energy security and has initiated the authorisation process rapidly.
Turkey is firmly opposed to the scheme, cut off from EastMed and other gas supply deals in the eastern Mediterranean. It chafes to undermine its position as a supplier of energy to the European Union.
T]he most cost-effective and safe transmission route[ of natural gas] to European consumer markets, including our country, is Turkey,” said Hami Aksoy, spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry.