Construction of the EastMed gas pipeline has reportedly received the green light from Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Israel, while Nicosia has confirmed that the sides are close to a deal.
Times of Israel reported that the sides have overcome previous difficulties faced in the negotiation process and are ready to go ahead with presenting the deal before the European Commission as a Project of Common Interest (PCI).
Meanwhile, Cyprus government sources told state CyBC TV that while no agreement has come out of the ongoing negotiations as of yet, the sides are very close to doing so.
The same source told CYBC that five weeks will be required from the day of reaching the agreement so that its content can be examined by the European Commission.
The gas pipeline project estimated to cost over $7 bln, is to connect Israel and Cyprus natural gas reserves of the two countries and mainland Europe.
According to Israel's Channel 2, the European Union has agreed to invest $100 mln in a feasibility study for the project before agreeing on the placement of the longest and deepest submarine gas pipeline in the world.
Commenting on the deal, Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, said that EastMed will “to some extent minimise Arab influence on Europe”.
The agreement will see that Israel and Cyprus are preferred over other countries when importing natural gas to the European market.
According to Israeli reports, work on the EastMed pipeline will begin over the next few months and is expected to be completed within five years.
The EastMed pipeline will begin about 170 kilometers off the southern coast of Cyprus and will stretch for 2,200 kilometers to reach Otranto in Italy through Crete and mainland Greece.
EastMed is expected to play a significant part in assuring Europe’s supply of natural gas, as annual needs are expected to increase by 100 billion m³ by 2030.
The pipeline will have the ability to transport up to 20 billion m³ of natural gas from the Eastern Mediterranean to Europe annually.
Leaders of Cyprus, Greece, Israel and Italy have previously expressed their intent to sign an inter-governmental agreement on the EastMed project in Beersheba during a summit scheduled for December 20.