A new underwater pipeline connecting Israel’s natural gas reserves to Greece, Italy, and Cyprus will eventually give all of Europe a new source of energy to challenge traditional suppliers in Russia and the Middle East.
The monumental project will be the longest and deepest underwater gas pipeline in the world. It will be built on the back of support from Europe with private investors contributing $100 million in a feasibility study for its construction, according to Israeli TV news channel Hadashot.
As part of the agreement, Israel and Cyprus will be granted preference over other countries in exporting gas to the European market, according to the report. The EastMed Pipeline Project is to start about 170 kilometers (105 miles) off Cyprus’s southern coast and stretch for 2,200 kilometers (1,350 miles) to reach Otranto, Italy, via Crete and the Greek mainland.
Israel Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz commented on the deal to Hadashot, saying that it could temper Arab influence in Europe.
“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 said.
In February, Egypt, the only Arab state apart from Jordan to have a peace deal with Israel, inked an agreement to import gas from the Jewish state’s Tamar and Leviathan reservoirs.
Egypt used to supply Israel with gas but that pipeline was sabotaged repeatedly by Islamist militants in the turbulent northern part of the Sinai Peninsula.
Egypt was the first Arab country to make peace with Israel, in 1979, but past economic agreements have been controversial in the Arab world’s most populous country, where popular support for Palestinians runs high.
Follow Simon Kent on Twitter: Follow @SunSimonKent or e-mail to: email@example.com