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Greece, Cyprus, Israel examine East Med gas exports to EU

Exploitation and export of energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean remains a challenge

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ATHENS – On December 8, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will participate in a trilateral summit between Greece, Cyprus and Israel in Jerusalem to discuss expanding strategic cooperation, including energy.

The pieces of the puzzle are starting to come together but there are obstacles, Energean Oil & Gas CEO Mathios Rigas told New Europe in Athens on November 29 on the sidelines of an AmCham ‏conference, referring to the recent “fallout of the discussions about the Cyprus solution and we have to see how this will affect the whole situation”.

“We see gas already contracted to Jordan; we see talks that are happening between Israel and Turkey, Israel and Egypt and a potential pipeline to Greece, which is a challenging project technically. So there is still a long way to solve the big issue of how to get the gas into the big market of Europe, coming out of the East Med,” Rigas said.

He reminded that Energean is present in the Israeli fields of Karish and Tanin. “It’s a project that is exclusively targeting the local market of Israel by law. It’s a major project for us. Becoming a deep-water operator is very important and being next to the only other operator in the East Med – Noble – puts Greece on the map of developments in the East Med sector. And we hope that in the next few days or weeks the process will be finalised and the Israeli government will give the final green light for the assets to be transferred to Energean and start with the big investment to bring more gas to the market,” Rigas said.

“At the moment, Israel has only one field – Tamar. There is a big issue about security of supply and Leviathan is targeting the export markets. Karish-Tanin will be targeting the local market of Israel so the pieces of the puzzle are starting to come together but there are still major issues that need to be resolved,” the Energean CEO said.

US Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt, who participated in the AmCham conference in Athens, tweeted on November 28 the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) is “key input into energy diversification”.

Rigas said the key issue about gas is to find multiple routes to enter the big markets and projects like TAP and the Interconnector Greece Bulgaria (IGB) will help create a global market where gas can be traded freely without limitations of infrastructure or borders and that will help develop a more stable market.

“At the moment we have cheap gas in the US, we have expensive gas that lands in the East and we still have expensive gas in Europe,” Rigas said. “These projects are of fundamental importance to normalise this market and make it a truly global market as close as to the oil market as it can become,” he added.

Turning to Greece, he acknowledged that the country has difficulties and had many political changes recently. Rigas cited the Prinos oil field, discovered and developed by Energean, as a successful example. “It is proof to the international community that with the right local partner you can succeed in Greece despite the changes,” Rigas said.

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Co-founder / Director of Energy & Climate Policy and Security at NE Global Media

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