Cyprus considers plan to import Israeli gas for European energy need
The plan is expected to anger Ankara, which has recently shown a desire to export Israeli gas into Europe
By News Desk - December 22 2022

(Photo credit: Yorgos Karahalis/AP)

Cypriot Minister of Energy Natasa Pilides told the media on 21 December that Cyprus is reviewing a potential plan to import Israeli gas onto the island for processing and export into Europe, in an attempt to alleviate the crippling energy crisis caused by western sanctions on Russia.

Pilides said, however, that the Cypriot government is still considering issuing a licensing request from UK-based energy exploration firm, Energean, as the country is still awaiting a response from Israel on how much gas it would be willing to provide.

The Cypriot official also said exporting gas to Europe via shipping is much more “feasible” than running it through a pipeline.

“It’s lower cost, more technically feasible, and provides a lot of flexibility in terms of the export routes via vessels … And also, it’s a good opportunity for us to have infrastructure that is close to home so … if we want to utilize it for our own sources as well, then it will be an additional option … It’s certainly worth discussing with our licensees,” Pilides said.

This coincided with the announcement made on 21 December by energy firms Eni and TotalEnergies on the discovery of two to three trillion cubic feet of natural gas off the coast of the island nation, which the Cypriot government referred to as a “significant gas discovery” that “confirms the region’s bright energy potential.”

The potential project is likely to pose a slight to Cyprus’ historic rival Turkiye, however, which has recently expressed its wish to meet Europe’s energy needs and has been negotiating its own project with Tel Aviv.

Additionally, the project could rekindle negotiations on a 2020 agreement to build a pipeline between Israel, Cyprus, and Greece.

During a joint press conference in West Jerusalem on 26 May with outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu declared that Turkiye would be the only suitable outlet for Israeli gas if Israel decides to export it to Europe.

Since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, the island has been split into two sides – one Greek and another Turkish – and Ankara has long made claims to Cyprus’ ‘Exclusive Economic Zone.’

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