Israel Signs Pipe Deal to Rival Russia as Gas Supplier to Europe

South Stream 2.0 will have competition

Following two years of negotiations, Israel has signed an agreement with Italy, Greece, and Cyprus to lay the longest gas pipeline in history, Israel’s Channel 2 reported Saturday night.

The pipeline will traverse a distance of 1,242 miles and lie at a depth of between 1.8-to-3 miles. It will provide gas to Europe from Israel’s offshore fields.

The EastMed Pipeline Project is projected to begin in a few months’ time, starting about 170 km off Cyprus’ southern coast and reaching Otranto, Italy via Crete and the Greek mainland.

Up to 20 billion cubic meters of gas is expected to flow to Europe annually, thereby diversifying its supply of this energy source, which is now heavily dependent on Russia.

In 2014 Moscow threatened to cut natural gas deliveries over a dispute with the Ukraine, and actually did stop the flow temporarily in 2009.

The pipeline could be more than a direct boost to Israel’s economy, Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources Yuval Steinitz told Hadashot TV.

‘A counterweight to Arab power’

“For decades, we have complained about the Arab influence in Europe due to oil and gas. The export of gas to Europe will moderate this influence to a certain extent and be a counterweight to Arab power,” he explained.

The agreement has been some two years in the works, with the four countries’ energy czars signing a memorandum of understanding regarding the pipeline in December 2017. It is considered a technically difficult project to complete not only because of the depth of the undersea route, but also because it will have to pass through a volcanic area in the ocean bottom between Cyprus and Greece.

Other long-term deals for Israeli gas have been signed with Egypt and Jordan to the tune of billions of dollars, with deliveries set to begin next year.

The agreement was made with the approval of the European Union.

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