Can Israel export gas to Europe? The experts answer

Eden

By Eden

May 02, 2022

Could Europe meet its demand for natural gas with resources from the Middle East – especially from Israel – and as an alternative to regular purchases from Russia?

While there is talk of renewed interest in gas from the eastern Mediterranean, experts interviewed by ISRAEL21c en Español were more cautious about their prospects.

The Eastern Mediterranean Gas Pipeline Project (EastMed) was supposed to transport gas to Europe from Israel and Cyprus via Greece and Italy using a 1,900-kilometre undersea pipeline with a capacity of 10 billion cubic meters (BCM) per year.

“The importance of this project was very geostrategic because it brought Israel, Greece and Cyprus much closer together,” said Michael Harari, a policy fellow at Mitvim, the Israel Institute for Regional Foreign Policy, and a former ambassador to Cyprus.

Until the Russian invasion of Ukraine, EastMed seemed dead. In January, the US said it no longer supported the $6.54 billion initiative announced in 2016, citing environmental concerns.

Could Europe meet its demand for natural gas with resources from the Middle East – especially from Israel – and as an alternative to regular purchases from Russia?

While there is talk of renewed interest in gas from the eastern Mediterranean, experts interviewed by ISRAEL21c en Español were more cautious about their prospects.

The Eastern Mediterranean Gas Pipeline Project (EastMed) was supposed to transport gas to Europe from Israel and Cyprus via Greece and Italy using a 1,900-kilometre undersea pipeline with a capacity of 10 billion cubic meters (BCM) per year.

“The importance of this project was very geostrategic because it brought Israel, Greece and Cyprus much closer together,” said Michael Harari, a policy fellow at Mitvim, the Israel Institute for Regional Foreign Policy, and a former ambassador to Cyprus.

Until the Russian invasion of Ukraine, EastMed seemed dead. In January, the US said it no longer supported the $6.54 billion initiative announced in 2016, citing environmental concerns.

Israel’s recent rapprochement with Turkey – President Isaac Herzog recently visited that country – created another new potential opportunity for Israeli gas in Europe.

“I think one of the reasons the US administration shelved the EastMed pipeline was to stabilize the region from the Turkish angle,” Harari said.

“Today Turkey speaks clearly. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said it together with Herzog in Ankara: he wants to get gas from Israel for his own consumption and for Europe,” he added.

For their part, Israeli officials say the underwater pipeline from the Leviathan gas field to Turkey could run some 552 kilometers at a cost of about $1.5 billion.

Possible obstacles

An underwater gas pipeline from Israel to Turkey could cross Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone, creating potential obstacles for a country with historically antagonistic relations with the Turks.

Israel wants to maintain close ties with Cyprus, which together with Greece and Egypt leads the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF).

In that regard, Harari told ISRAEL21c en Español that although the appeal of gas from the eastern Mediterranean is “clear and valid, the volumes are not sufficient to cover most of Europe’s needs and it will not happen in the next one or two years. two years”.

According to the International Energy Agency, Russia’s natural gas accounted for around 45 percent of the European Union’s (EU) gas imports at 155 BCM in 2021 and close to 40 percent of the EU’s total gas consumption.

The bloc has already committed to leaving fossil fuels behind to meet its climate goals under the 2015 Paris agreement. Thus, by 2030, natural gas consumption in the EU is expected to fall to 22 percent and only 9 percent. percent by 2050 before coming to a complete stop.

“In light of the EU’s energy policy, the future of the EastMed project is still open but uncertain, and even worse without a strategy for pipeline development in line with the EU’s long-term climate goals,” he said. Martina Pilloni, associate energy expert at the Israel Public Policy Institute.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military attack on Ukraine, launched on February 24, may have opened the door to Israeli gas.
On March 8, the EU unveiled its REPowerEU plan, which calls for “diversifying gas supply through increased imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and pipeline imports from non-Russian suppliers.”

But Pilloni was quick to point out that the plan also calls for more biomethane and hydrogen and emphasizes an even faster reduction in reliance on fossil fuels.

Private investment

An EU guarantee for natural gas outside Russia could be attractive to private investors who would otherwise take a long shot in terms of closing a deal, building a pipeline and extracting gar.

“Private investors need to see if the EU is willing to invest money (from the government and not just private) in these efforts. Whatever they put the money into, that’s what’s going to be built,” said Professor Elai Rettig, a specialist in geopolitics and energy security, who leads energy-related research at the Center for Maritime Strategy and Policy Research. from the University of Haifa.

While the EastMed pipeline or a route through Turkey pose significant challenges, LNG for shipping and storage is another desirable option. All the specialists agree on that.
The gaze is directed to the two existing LNG facilities in Egypt or to a proposed floating facility in Leviathan.

In 2021, Egypt shipped a maximum of 6.8 million tons of LNG and for this year it aims to export 7.5 million tons of LNG.

Ups and downs

While Europe decides on its energy policies to reduce Russian dependency, Israel continues to benefit from gas exploration in its economic waters.

The Leviathan and Tamar gas fields operated by Chevron are already up and running.
Last month, oil and gas exploration and production company Energean announced that its Karish gas field was connected to Israel’s gas grid with gas expected to begin flowing to consumers later in 2022.

“We are somewhat immune to these ups and downs in the global gas market that we are seeing in Europe and Asia. Because we have our own national supply and we have artificial competition between these three fields,” Rettig said.

Lishkat Misjar

Lishkat Misjar, Cambra de Comerç Privada Barcelona - Israel (CACOBI), facilita les relacions comercials, impulsa el creixement empresarial i potencia el desenvolupament econòmic entre Barcelona - Israel.

Lishkat Misjar

Lishkat Misjar, Cámara de Comercio Privada Barcelona – Israel (CACOBI), facilita las relaciones comerciales, impulsa el crecimiento empresarial y potencia el desarrollo económico entre Barcelona - Israel.

Lishkat Misjar

Lishkat Misjar, Barcelona-Israel Private Chamber of Commerce (CACOBI), facilitates commercial relations, promotes business growth and promotes economic development between Barcelona-Israel.

Lishkat Misjar

(CACOBI) לשכת מסחר , לשכת המסחר הפרטית של ברצלונה-ישראל, מסייעת ליחסי מסחר, מניעה צמיחה עסקית ומגבירה את הפיתוח הכלכלי בין ברצלונה לישראל.


© Lishkat Misjar. All rights reserved.