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US company boosts East Med’s Israel-Cyprus-Greece-EU pipeline

Houston’s Noble joins Greece’s DEPA, Italy’s Edison for 1180-mile design

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ATHENS – Plans to build the East-Med pipeline, which could transport up to 16 billion cubic metres from the offshore gas reserves in the Levantine Basin near Israel and Cyprus as well as from the potential gas reserves in Greece to the European market, received a boost on June 9 after IGI Poseidon and Noble Energy inked a deal to access the viability of the project.

Equally owned by Greek Public natural gas supply corporation DEPA and Italy’s Edison, IGI Poseidon and Houston-based Noble Energy signed a Cooperation Agreement to support the finalisation of the Pre-FEED activities of the East-Med pipeline and to jointly assess its viability as one of the export options for the Eastern Mediterranean gas discoveries, DEPA said in a press release.

“The fact that for the first time a company involved in Eastern Mediterranean energy discoveries signs an agreement that links it with the East-Med project is encouraging news,” Constantinos Filis, director of research at Institute of International Relations, told New Europe on June 10.

“However, a memorandum to jointly assess that viability of East-Med does not mean that a strategic deal is anywhere near. It seems to me that this is more a product of a good-will gesture on behalf of Noble to DEPA’s consistent pressure to participate in the Feasibility Study that is underway, as well as a sign that East-Med is not totally excluded from the former’s plans, but this development does not change current realities,” he added.

The 1900 kilometre-long East-Med, in conjunction with the Poseidon and Interconnector Greece Bulgaria (IGB) pipelines, could supply gas to Italy and other South East European countries, DEPA said.

However, Filis noted that based on nowadays dynamics, East-Med, despite its technical viability and economic and geopolitical comparative advantage compared with the option of supplying the European market through Turkey, remains a low-priority for the companies participating in the wider region. Still, the fact that all other alternatives face severe geopolitical complexities, including Egypt and its liquefied natural gas facilities or Turkey as a market, “if at last Israel and/or Cyprus decide to ‘feed’ the European market through a pipeline system, East-Med can raise its stakes,” he said.

Filis reminded that East-Med could only supplement EU’ s security of supply objective. The idea is that through the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC), natural gas coming from the Caspian, the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean can reach European soil, he said. The definite advantage of East-Med is that it bypasses Turkey, thus avoiding a kind of a geopolitical risk as well as not letting Ankara becoming another Ukraine as its is involved in all projects of the SGC, he said.

Filis noted that in a possible future scenario in which the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) faces supply disruptions stemming from Turkey’s need to secure more quantities from the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP), if its network is left without additional 16 billion cubic metres from Russian gas monopoly Gazprom, “any plan that bypasses Turkey designated to the European market will automatically become of crucial importance”.

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

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