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EU Urges Feasibility Study for Importing Israeli Natural Gas

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The European Union signaled interest in a possible pipeline to import Israeli offshore natural gas via Cyprus and Greece, highlighting the EU’s efforts to reduce reliance on Russia, informed Bloomberg.

Top EU officials said the Eastern Mediterranean initiative, which Israel, Greece and Cyprus are promoting, merits a feasibility study. The project could also tap gas discovered in neighboring Cypriot waters.

Russia’s decision this month to halt construction of the $45 billion South Stream pipeline, which was to bring Russian gas directly to the EU via the Black Sea, is emboldening efforts in the bloc to find new sources of the fuel.

South Stream, led by Russia’s OAO Gazprom, ran afoul of EU rules on fair public procurement and on the separation of gas supply from pipeline ownership. As a route that would bypass Ukrainian transit pipelines, South Stream also became politically controversial after Russia’s encroachment in eastern Ukraine.

Israel’s 2009 and 2010 discoveries of two gas fields off its Mediterranean coast have led to energy agreements with Jordan, a preliminary deal with Egypt and hopes that the estimated 29 trillion cubic feet of gas may help improve relations with Arab states as well as Turkey and Europe.

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