Israel, Cyprus, Greece, Italy and the European Union signed a memorandum of understanding Tuesday, agreeing to back the construction of the world’s longest underwater natural gas pipeline.
The project, dubbed East Med, will see the construction of a 2,000 kilometer long pipeline, aimed at transporting natural gas extracted from Israeli and Cypriot reservoirs in the Eastern Mediterranean sea, to the European market via Greece and Italy. The project will cost approximately $6 billion and is expected to be completed by 2025.
The eastern Mediterranean has produced some of the world’s biggest gas finds in the past decade, and much of it is still thought to be untapped at a time Europe is looking to diversify its gas resources for reasons of energy security.
“Today we have concluded a very significant milestone, which is the signing of a memorandum of understanding which outlines the political commitment of the four countries to pursue this project,” Cypriot Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said during a signing ceremony in the Cypriot capital Nicosia.
The pipeline, he said, was a “very important pillar” in the eastern Mediterranean natural gas corridor.
“The memorandum confirms our intention to cooperate in enabling and enhancing the development and the implementation of the EastMed Pipeline Project, as a viable and strategic option and an infrastructure of special interest for gas producing states and the EU,” read a joint statement released following the signing.
Israel’s Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources Yuval Steinitz attended the signing summit held in the Cypriot capital Nicosia, along with his European counterparts.
“Common sense compels us to establish this pipeline, as Europe’s energy consumption is expected to rise in the coming decades, and they will need the [gas from the] East Mediterranean states such as Israel and Cyprus,” Steinitz told Tazpit Press Service (TPS), adding that “Something that seemed like fantasy only two years ago, is manifesting and becoming reality today.”
The four countries also said they would cooperate to facilitate studies, permits, construction and operation of the project, with a view to signing an Intergovernmental Agreement on the project “within 2018,” a joint statement said.
Israel has discovered more than 900 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas offshore. Cyprus’s Aphrodite gas field holds an additional 128 bcm and Cypriot waters are expected to hold more reserves.
It is estimated the pipeline could transport up to 16 bcm of gas per year. The project owners are IGI Poseidon, a joint venture.
By: Yona Schnitzer