Thursday

26th May 2022

Controversial EastMed pipeline not necessary, report warns

  • The giant gas reserves in the disputed waters of the Aegean Sea could produce almost as much as carbon as France and Spain together emit in a year (Photo: gazprom.ru)

The natural gas reserves in the disputed waters of the Aegean Sea, estimated to be worth billions, have been a sticking point in the ongoing tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.

To date, only Cyprus has found gas near these waters, making it a potential major energy player in the region.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Tensions in the eastern Mediterranean mounted after Turkey decided to extend the gas-exploration mission to Greek-claimed waters of the Aegean Sea this summer (Photo: MarineTraffic)

However, a new report has warned that the gas over which Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, and the EU are embroiled in a war of words could lead to an increase of greenhouse gas emissions that could undermine the bloc's climate goals.

"If only the gas already discovered in the disputed waters was extracted and burned, by 2050 it would produce almost as much as carbon as France and Spain together emit in a year," reads the report published by British NGO Global Witness on Friday (30 October).

European countries do not need the gas from the eastern Mediterranean because the current supplies from Norway, Russia, Turkey, Central Asia, and North Africa are supposed to meet exiting demand - even in the event of supply disruption.

However, the Global Witness report indicates that the new proposed EastMed pipeline linking the Aegean's giant gas reserves to Europe could lead to more carbon emissions in one year than the Polish coal-fired power plant in Bełchatów - seen as the largest fossil-fuel emitter in Europe.

The EastMed pipeline, scheduled to start operating in 2025, has been promoted by the governments of Greece, Cyprus, and Israel, who signed a joint declaration of support in January.

But it is also backed by the EU since the project falls under the fourth list of Projects of Common Interest (PCI) - a group of key energy cross border infrastructure projects in the EU, eligible for public funds through the European Investment Bank.

Meanwhile, the bloc is expected to reduce its use of natural gas by 29 percent to achieve current climate and energy targets for the next decade, while reducing its demand by 90 percent by 2050 in order to achieve climate neutrality.

"As EU demand plummets, this gas will only decrease further in value. It is critical that officials realise this before risking conflict in the region," reads the report.

'Wasteful fight'?

The British NGO noted that disputes between countries over who controls fossil fuels often turn violent, calling on Cyprus, Greece, and Turkey to pledge not to allow further drilling, avoiding a "wasteful fight".

Global Witness also urged removing EastMed's pipeline from the list of critical energy infrastructure projects.

Jonathan Gant, senior policy officer at Global Witness, said that "the quickest solution to the rising crisis in the eastern Mediterranean is for all to agree that the best place for fossil fuels is in the ground".

"At a time when the world is already facing conflict and uncertainty it makes absolutely no sense for countries to be squabbling over a resource that will contribute to climate breakdown and ultimately make the world an even less safe place," he added.

Tensions in the eastern Mediterranean mounted after Turkey decided to extend the gas-exploration mission of its research vessel, the Oruç Reis, in the disputed waters of the Aegean Sea this summer.

In early October, Greece was again irritated when Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sent the Oruç Reis back into Greek-claimed waters.

And EU leaders threatened Turkey with sanctions unless it stopped "provocations" against Cyprus and Greece such as by sending new gas-drilling ships into their waters, although falling short of taking any action in their last meeting in October.

Turkey is an EU accession candidate and Nato member.

EU heads of state government will assess developments at their next meeting in December.

Investigation

The European gas trap

With the support of EU institutions, the fossil industry is investing in natural gas infrastructure all across the continent, from Tallinn to Athens and from the Baltic to the Aegean. But does Europe truly need all this natural gas?

Hydrogen strategy criticised for relying on fossil fuel gas

Civil society organisations criticised that the commission is relying on early-stage technologies that require the continued use of fossil fuels, undermining the EU's 2050 climate-neutrality target set in the Green Deal.

Portugal under fire for backtracking on gas funding

A group of member states is seeking to prolong EU funding for cross-border natural gas projects - contrary to the European Commission's plans to remove all support for such infrastructure, according to a draft document seen by EUobserver.

Ombudsman censures EU Commission on gas-projects list

The European Ombudsman said the climate risks from gas projects included on the EU Commission's list of priority energy projects were not properly assessed, urging the commission to address the "shortcomings" of its methodology.

Orbán's new state of emergency under fire

Hungary's premier Viktor Orbán declared a state of emergency due to the war in neighbouring Ukraine hours after pushing a constitutional amendment through parliament, where two-thirds of MPs are controlled by his Fidesz party, allowing his government special powers.

Opinion

When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin

Neither Reagan nor Gorbachev achieved their goal at the famous Reykjavik summit of 1986. Despite that fact there are lessons that current leaders — particularly Vladimir Putin — could adopt from these two iconic leaders.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch journalists sue EU over banned Russia TV channels
  2. EU holding €23bn of Russian bank reserves
  3. Russia speeds up passport process in occupied Ukraine
  4. Palestinian civil society denounce Metsola's Israel visit
  5. Johnson refuses to resign after Downing Street parties report
  6. EU border police has over 2,000 agents deployed
  7. Dutch tax authorities to admit to institutional racism
  8. Rutte calls for EU pension and labour reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. EU summit will be 'unwavering' on arms for Ukraine
  2. Orbán's new state of emergency under fire
  3. EU parliament prevaricates on barring Russian lobbyists
  4. Ukraine lawyer enlists EU watchdog against Russian oil
  5. Right of Reply: Hungarian government
  6. When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin
  7. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  8. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us