US snubs EastMed pipeline in race to ditch Russian energy

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A project to build a natural gas pipeline from the East Mediterranean to Europe would take too long and cost too much as the West seeks quicker alternatives to Russian energy, a senior US diplomat said Thursday.

The EastMed pipeline, meant to transfer natural gas from Israeli waters to Europe via Greece and Cyprus, was announced in 2016, and several agreements have been signed.

The three states aimed to complete the €6 billion project by 2025, but no financing has been secured.

Visiting US State Department official Victoria Nuland said the pipeline was too long, in very deep waters and would take 10 years to build.

“We believe it is too expensive, not economically viable and will take too long,” Nuland said after meeting Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades Thursday.

“When we think about hydrocarbons both in the US context and in the EU context, we are hoping for a quick transition, and frankly, we don’t have ten years,” she added.

“So what we are looking for within the hydrocarbon context are options that can get us more gas, more oil for this short transition period.

“We focus now on energy, interconnectors; we are focused on projects that can deliver now for Cyprus both in the south and north for Europe.”

Greece, Cyprus and Israel signed a deal in January 2020 to build a 1,900km subsea pipeline to carry natural gas from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe.

Nuland said there was a need to search for alternative supplies to avoid dependence on Russian energy after Moscow invaded Ukraine.

“Countries throughout this area have understood that dependence on Russian oil and gas is an extremely bad bet.

“There is a convergence of interest in diversifying supply even as we work to get green.”

She said Washington does support other projects that Cyprus, Greece and Israel are involved in, like the EuroAsia electricity interconnector.

They have agreed to build the world’s longest and deepest underwater power cable linking their electricity grids with Europe.

The €2.5 billion EuroAsia interconnector projected is expected to be completed by 2025.

“We have supported the idea of the EuroAsia electricity interconnector and other projects like that we want to see get viable,” said Nuland.