Monday

18th Feb 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.

Germany bound to apply EU rules to Russia pipeline

Germany will need to make sure EU rules are being followed by Russia's controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, currently under construction, it was decided in negotiations between EU institutions on Tuesday evening.

News in Brief

  1. Visegrad countries meeting with Israel called off
  2. EU ministers call climate change 'direct and existential threat'
  3. Seven MPs leave Britain's Labour Party
  4. Czech PM: May's EU elections 'most important ever'
  5. 'History will judge us': May tells MPs on Brexit
  6. Trump warns EU on release of Islamist fighters
  7. Venezuela expels 'conspiratorial' MEPs
  8. Holocaust dispute upsets Israel's EU lobbying

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. Italian populists could be second biggest force in EU parliament
  2. Merkel defends Russia ties, ridicules Trump on cars
  3. British MPs condemn Facebook CEO's misrule
  4. EU's chance to step up on Hungary and Poland
  5. ESA pushback against new EU space agency plan
  6. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  7. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  8. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us