Greek Energy Minister Kostis Hatzidakis said the agreement with Cyprus, and Israel to construct an ambitious EastMed gas pipeline constitutes a game-changer for Athens and Europe.
A deal for an undersea pipeline to carry gas from new offshore deposits in the southeastern Mediterranean to mainland Europe was ratified by a Greek parliamentary committee on Monday evening.
In his speech to the standing committee on trade, Hatzidakis referred to the geostrategic importance of the EastMed project, saying it will alter the landscape of gas resources and routes for Greece and Europe.
He said the EastMed project will strengthen Greece’s strategic relationship with Cyprus and Israel while giving a concrete answer to Turkey’s “revisionism and provocativeness” in the region.
Answering to criticism by opposition parties over Italy’s absence from the intergovernmental agreement signed in Athens in January, Hatzidakis said Rome participated in the whole negotiation process and retains its right to sign the agreement in good time.
“We consider that this issue will have a positive development, but we are leaving open all the options as regards the final routing of the pipeline, without ruling out the possibility of other countries to participate, such as Egypt,” Hatzidakis said.
On the economic viability of the €7 bln project, Hatzidakis said it largely depends on what gas quantities Israel and Cyprus earmark from existing and potential natural gas fields.
The EastMed pipeline accord passed the first stage ahead of ratification with the votes of ruling New Democracy, main opposition SYRIZA and Movement for Change (KINAL).
The Communist Party (KKE) and MeRA25 voted against, while Greek Solution said it would reserve judgment until the plenary vote on Thursday.
The 1,900-kilometer sub-sea pipeline aims to provide an alternative gas source for energy-hungry Europe and make it less dependent on supplies from Russia.
EastMed will be able to carry between nine and 12 billion cubic meters of gas a year from offshore reserves held by Israel and Cyprus to Greece, and then on to Italy and other southeastern European countries.
It would run from Israel’s Levantine Basin offshore gas reserves to Cyprus, the Greek island of Crete and, the Greek mainland.
An overland pipeline to northwestern Greece and another planned undersea pipeline would carry the gas to Italy.
Pre-coronavirus, the countries aimed to reach a final investment decision by 2022 and have the pipeline completed by 2025 to help Europe diversify its energy resources.