Senior officials from Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Israel agreed to advance talks on a pipeline from Israel to Europe after an EU-sponsored study showed the project would be “very feasible,” Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said in an interview.
The study showed the pipeline, which would traverse Cyprus and Greece before reaching Italy, would cost about 5 billion euros ($5.5 billion), much less than previously estimated, he said. The officials met Wednesday in Athens, together with a representative from the EU energy commission, to review the study and discuss ways to move the project forward.
“When we were talking about this a year ago, many thought it was unrealistic, but now the EU is saying this could work out, so this is a big breakthrough,” Steinitz said. “The four governments decided to continue promoting this project. It was checked thoroughly by EU experts and it seems it will be very feasible.”
Israel is ready to sign long-term export contracts after the last of the regulatory, legal and political challenges that held up gas development for years was swept away in May. Two major discoveries in the past decade have put Israel on course to become a gas exporter, but the country still must decide how it will move the gas overseas.
A pipeline to Greece would have to go deep underwater and would be the world’s longest undersea connection, but the study showed that it’s feasible from an engineering perspective, Steinitz said. He stressed that the idea of exporting gas to Turkey, with whom Israel has held talks about a pipeline, was also still on the table.
“This would not be instead of Turkey,” he said. “I’ve always said we need at least two pipelines.”