Jerusalem: The Israel government has sanctioned the plan to supply natural gas from Israel and Cyprus to the European countries. This decision was taken in the meeting of the Israeli cabinet of Ministers, held on Sunday. Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz reacted that this decision is a historic step. In the last few years, Russia and Iran had initiated moves, with assistance from Turkey, to increase fuel cooperation with the European countries. The Israeli fuel pipeline project is believed to be an effort to counter these activities.
Israel, Cyprus and Greece signed the agreement for EastMed Pipeline Project, during a meeting held in Greece, in January. This project, with a capital outlay of USD 6.86 billion, envisages building a 1,900-kilometre-long gas pipeline from the Levantine Basin, in the Israeli marine region, to Greece. The survey work for this deep-sea pipeline has already started, and European companies are participating in the process. An independent company by the name IGB Poseidon has also been formed for the project. The target for completion of the project, through this joint venture company of the European Union with Israel, has been set for 2025.
Although the original EastMed Pipeline project is Israel-Cyprus-Greece, there is a plan to extend the pipeline in the future to Italy and other Balkan countries in Europe. Sources informed that the gas pipeline would supply 10 billion cubic metres of natural gas per annum. As per a report published a few years ago, there are natural gas reserves of nearly 2,200 billion cubic metres in the Israeli marine region. In a campaign undertaken by Israel in 2016, gas reserves of 900 billion cubic metres were also discovered. The marine region of Cyprus, forming a part of the Mediterranean Sea, is said to have gas reserves of 128 billion cubic metres.
The EastMed Pipeline Project undertaken jointly by Israel, Cyprus and Greece also has a background of the aggressive Turkish moves. Turkey has claimed a right on the gas reserves in the Cypriot Marin region. Turkey had even sent its warships to this region. A few months ago, Turkey created a stir by signing a deal with Libya, claiming the areas in the Cypriot and Greek marine limits as its own territory. Analysts claim that in this scenario, the Israeli presence in the Mediterranean region will be a deterrent for the Turkish activities.