Greece will definitely benefit from the recent agreement with Israel and Cyprus for the construction of the East Med gas pipeline, according to a report in the German financial newspaper Handelsblatt.
The proposed pipeline will transport natural gas from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe. The cooperative agreement was recently signed by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiades.
Talks between the three nations on the issue began in 2015 and have progressed to a solid alliance, according to Handelsblatt. The three Mediterranean countries aim to intensify their cooperation and make it permanent with the establishment of a joint secretariat based in Cyprus.
The newspaper notes that the enormous reserves of natural gas believed to be under the eastern Mediterranean seabed could contribute substantially to the energy supply of the whole of Western Europe.
However, the issue of how to transport the resource from the drilling areas to Western Europe remains in question. The East Med Pipeline project currently under discussion foresees the construction of a 1,900-km (1181-mile) pipeline along the eastern Mediterranean.
The pipeline will begin in the natural gas fields off the coast of Israel, and will lead through the islands of Cyprus and Crete to the Peloponnesian peninsula of Greece. The route will then continue on mainland Greece, where the pipeline will meet the planned “Poseidon” pipeline which will end in Oradea, Italy. The natural gas can flow from there into the European grid.
A full 1,300 km (808 miles) of the 1,900 km of pipeline will run underwater. All parties involved in the project are agreed that this presents a great technical challenge, since the Mediterranean in those areas can reach depths of up to 3,000 meters (9843 feet, almost two miles).
The Handelsblatt report says that Greece could not only collect gas transport fees and strengthen its role as an energy hub, but also exploit the pipeline to meet its own needs.
Furthermore, according to U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, the pipeline has enormous geostrategic importance apart from the economic benefits to the countries involved. The East Med Pipeline, although shorter than Russia’s North Stream line, will undoubtedly have the effect of limiting Russia’s role as a natural gas supplier to Europe as a whole.