Greece and Israel say they are pushing ahead with Cyprus to build an ambitious €7 bln EastMed gas pipeline to mainland Europe.
Greek Energy Minister Kostis Hatzidakis discussed the issue with his Israeli counterpart Yuval Steinitz, on Tuesday, during the Greek Prime Minister’s official visit to Israel.
The two Ministers expressed their strong commitment to the construction of the EastMed pipeline while highlighting the strategic importance and the viability of this project for the contracting states and for the EU as a whole.
Hatzidakis and Steinitz signed a Joint Declaration on issues of energy cooperation, which relates to the joint projects that promote energy security in Greece and Israel.
The importance of Greece (Crete)-Cyprus-Israel electricity connection –which is being implemented as a Project of Common Interest by EuroAsia Interconnector– was also part of the meeting’s agenda.
Furthermore, the two Ministers discussed the deepening of the trilateral cooperation between Greece, Cyprus and Israel, trough the 3+1 initiative which includes the USA, and also through the East Med Gas Forum.
“We are moving decisively towards the construction of the East Med natural gas pipeline. With the same decisiveness, we will proceed along with Cyprus for the construction of the Crete-Cyprus-Israel electricity connection”, Hatzidakis said.
The ministers noted the support offered by Greece and Cyprus to Euro-Asia regarding its submission, on May 27, of a proposal for a grant by the EU’s CEF (Connect Europe Facility) Fund.
The project will promote regional energy security by linking the electricity grids of Israel and Cyprus with that of the EU via a subsea electrical cable, extending from Greece (Crete), to Cyprus, and from there, to Israel.
The ministers underlined the importance of deepening their cooperation on the project to facilitate the emergence of an integrated regional electric grid.
Biggest in the world
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that during his meeting with Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis they extensively discussed the EastMed pipeline, which will connect the deposits between Israel, Cyprus and Greece.
“It constitutes the biggest pipeline in the world,” Netanyahu said.
On trilateral cooperation between Greece, Cyprus and Israel, Mitsotakis said with the addition of US participation this alliance incarnates the vision for a peaceful Mediterranean.
He suggested that the construction of the EastMed gas pipeline is integrated into this specific vision, aiming to exploit regional natural gas deposits.
Last month, the Cyprus government approved the ratification framework for the EastMed natural gas pipeline agreed in January with Greece and Israel that is now in parliament for final ratification.
Cabinet approved the agreement signed in Athens on January 2 with a provision allowing Italy to join the 1,900km project at a later stage.
The multilateral agreement determines various issues between the participating countries, including maritime procedures, matters of security, the environment, and the establishment of a joint working group to observe progress.
The EastMed project has already secured €35 mln in EU funding for four studies that are ready to be tendered.
The pipeline is expected to carry 9 to 12 billion cubic metres of natural gas a year from offshore reserves held by Israel and Cyprus to Greece, and then on to Italy and other south-eastern European countries.