The government does not share the views of Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi, who argued that the EastMed pipeline needed Turkey’s approval, said Energy Minister George Papanastasiou.
In a statement to CNA, the minister described the recent statement by Descalzi at the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Italian Parliament that without Turkey’s consent, the gas project cannot be implemented as an opinion of a private entity.
“The decision on how this pipeline will actually be implemented will be based on a techno-economic study; certainly, it touches on geopolitical issues, where according to Mr Descalzi’s judgment, Turkey’s agreement is needed, a view which we as a government do not share”.
Papanastasiou said where there is energy wealth; there are different perceptions.
He added that Eni has previously stated through Descalzi that Turkey should be part of the arrangements being made in Cyprus.
Although Nicosia does not share this view, private companies and investors will decide on the solutions for transferring natural gas from the Eastern Mediterranean to the markets as an alternative to Europe’s autonomy from Russia.
“Eni may express one opinion; some other companies say something different”.
Papanastasiou said that natural gas transportation from point A to point C could be done through a point B called Cyprus, either through a pipeline, as in the case of East Med.
Or through the solution recently proposed by Nicosia and adopted by Israel, whereby natural gas is transported by a subsea pipeline to Cyprus and liquefied and transported by LNG ships to Europe, the so-called “East Med corridor”.
He said the EastMed was a public utility project funded by the European Commission, worth several billion euros and 1900 km long, while the solution recently put forward by Cyprus is more “realistic” as it is smaller, implemented much earlier and follows the same corridor.
Asked if the EastMed as a physical pipeline tends to be abandoned as an idea, Papanastasiou said there is still the section between Israel and Cyprus, which may well be the first phase of EastMed, adding that the second phase from Cyprus to Greece may be decided at a later stage.
“What we are proposing with the new alternative is essentially an EastMed, the first phase of which ends in Cyprus, and until it is implemented, if it has to be implemented and is techno-economically justified, then it stops at liquefaction and goes back to the pipeline, which is unlikely since the liquefaction is done in Cyprus and the LNG can be transported to any market, while the pipeline will only end at one point.”
The Energy Minister said any pipeline construction should include hydrogen transportation specifications, as natural gas is a transitional product, while the final destination is greener products, such as renewable energy and hydrogen.
“Therefore, if we consider the alternative we are putting on the table as the first phase of East Med, it goes without saying that what applies to East Med will also apply to the pipeline connecting Israel and Cyprus”.
The pipeline, the region’s key export option, has an initial capacity of 10 billion cubic meters of gas, which can be expanded up to 20 bcm in a subsequent phase as additional energy supplies become available.
About 1900 km long, the 1,300-km offshore gas pipeline runs from the offshore fields and links Israel, Cyprus and Crete before traversing 600 km in Western Greece, through the Peloponnese, to its final 210 km stretch along the Ionian coast to reach Italy via the Poseidon pipeline.
The EastMed-Poseidon pipeline is on the EU Projects of Common Interest list published in 2021.
However, it has also drawn criticism, and Greenpeace has asked Brussels not to fund it for environmental and geopolitical reasons.