Friday

19th Apr 2019

Israel-EU gas pipeline to compete with Russia

  • Gas exploration ship at Israel's port of Haifa (Photo: Helix Energy Solutions Group)

The EU and three member states have backed a plan for Israel to reduce Europe’s gas dependence on Russia.

The European Commission and ministers from Cyprus, Greece, and Italy signed up to build a new gas pipeline from Israel to Europe at a meeting in Tel Aviv on Monday (3 April).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Israeli gas considered safer than Russia's, which has been used for political blackmail (Photo: the half-blood prince)

The 2,200-km East Med pipeline would connect Israeli and Cypriot offshore gas fields to Greece and Italy.

It is designed to come online in 2025 with a capacity of up to 16 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas a year.

It would be the longest and deepest ever built, but an EU co-financed feasibility study by Italian firm IGI Poseidon said the project should go ahead.

Speaking in Tel Aviv on Monday, EU energy commissioner Miguel Arias Canete took a swipe at a competing Russian project, Nord Stream 2.

"North Stream is a pipeline [that] adds nothing to the [EU’s] security of supply," he said.

He said the commission’s strategy was “to diversify sources, routes, and suppliers” and hinted that Israel was a safer partner than Russia, which has used gas to blackmail neighbouring countries.

“Cyprus and Israel are very reliable suppliers,” he said.

With Nord Stream 2 disliked by Baltic, central European, and Nordic states, Canete added that the Israeli project “is a pipe that unites and will have the full support of all the members of the European Union”.

Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s energy minister, said US investment banks, such as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, got excited about the €6 billion project when they learned that the commission was on board.

“When they heard that the European energy commissioner was behind it [and] ready to give some assistance, that was very helpful,” he said.

He said the amount of gas discovered for export so far, up to 500 bcm, was “just the tip of the iceberg”.

Carlo Calenda, Italy’s economic development minister, said Rome would seek the backing of the G7 club of wealthy nations, which includes Canada, Japan, and the US, for the pipeline at a summit in Sicily in May.

The Cypriot energy minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said the project would “showcase” the region’s potential as an alternative EU supplier.

The much bigger Nord Stream 2 pipeline is designed to pump 55 bcm of gas a year to Germany from 2020, concentrating EU imports in Russia and Germany’s hands.

It faces open questions on whether EU laws would apply to its offshore section, as well as complaints by the Polish energy regulator, but Russia has already started buying pipe segments.

Political risk

The East Med pipeline is to run through Cypriot waters to avoid disputed maritime zones with Turkey and Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus.

But EU-Israeli cooperation carries other political risks.

According to Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, the EU’s envoy to Israel delivered a stinging rebuke on Israel’s treatment of Palestinians last week.

He said Israeli evictions in the West Bank constituted “forced transfers” in violation of Israel’s “obligations” under the Geneva Convention as an “occupying power”.

The ambassador, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, read out the EU note, which had been approved by all 28 member states in the bloc's Political and Security Committee, at a meeting with Israel’s top foreign ministry official.

The EU foreign service had planned to call a summit with Israel in February to upgrade relations, but plans were put on hold after a surge in Israeli settlement expansion.

Opinion

EU must act against 'Jerusalem Bill'

European officials should spell out real economic, political, and legal consequences of an Israeli bill that would reduce Jerusalem's Palestinian population from 40 percent to 32 percent.

EU still giving gas projects 'fast-track' status

The European Commission published on Friday a list of projects of common interest, which receive preferential treatment. Environmental lobbyists accuse the Commission of trying to fool the public with number games.

Investigation

EU's claim Energy Union now 'a reality' not based on facts

The Juncker commission this week awarded it self top marks on the Energy Union, declaring it "completed". But a detailed analysis reveals the commission quietly stopped reporting on key indicators that would have shown the actual level of progress.

Planned German coal exit boosts case for Nord Stream 2

German commission recommends phasing out coal power over the next 19 years - which will provide additional arguments to build the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia, which both the European Commission and the US have reservations about.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  6. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  7. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  9. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  11. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  12. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us