Analyst to “Nova”: “Israel can have a strategic role to diversify European sources”
Gina Cohen, an Israeli gas consultant, told “Agenzia Nova”, commenting on the impact of the Ukrainian crisis on the energy market and the possibility of building the EastMed pipeline
March 22, 2022
Israel can play a role in enabling Europe to receive reliable sources of gas and help it diversify its energy sources. This was stated to “Agenzia Nova” by Gina Cohen, Israeli gas consultant, commenting on the impact of the Ukrainian crisis on the energy market and the hypothesis of building the EastMed pipeline, which would bring Israeli gas to Italy, passing through Cyprus and Greece. The project consists of an offshore section of about 1,350 kilometers between Israel and mainland Greece, passing through Cyprus and Crete, and an onshore section in Greece of about 550 kilometers, directly connected to the Poseidon pipeline. “The transport capacity is expected to be around 10 billion cubic meters per year, with the possibility of delivering volumes to Cyprus and Greece, and is potentially expandable up to a maximum of 20 billion cubic meters per year,” Cohen recalled, admitting that the infrastructure “cannot replace and is not sufficient to meet the demand of Italy and Europe,” but Europe “must diversify its sources.”
Italy, the Israeli expert continued, “should be a country that supports this project at the forefront, but this has not been the case and I was surprised.” “I think it’s an opportunity for Europe and now the member countries have understood that,” Cohen pointed out, recalling that the EU recently called the project of “vital interest.”
The Eastmed pipeline is “feasible from an economic and technical point of view” and will take “about four years” to be realized because “the project is at an advanced stage compared to other projects in Qatar and Mozambique”. Regarding the withdrawal of U.S. support for the project, announced on January 2, Cohen clarified that the US was in any case not intending to provide economic support, so this is not what has now been removed, “and this should come from private European companies or Israeli based ones.”
“However, certainly the withdrawal of U.S. support is not positive, especially since it comes at a time when feasibility studies are underway and should be completed at the end of this year. It’s strange, because normally support is taken away either at the beginning of the studies or at the end, not in the middle,” Cohen said.
The expert emphasized that the “U.S. has become the biggest exporter of LNG, including to Europe.” Therefore, “if exports of gas are useful for the U.S., we must ask ourselves if it is not indeed useful for others,” she added, speculating that Washington “would not have taken the same decision on March 2” as the one it took on January 2.
From Cohen’s point of view, “Italy and Europe should say to the U.S.: ‘We are dependent on Russia, while you are self-sufficient from the energy point of view, while we are not. So let’s wait until the end of the feasibility studies and see what we can do to diversify our energy sources.”
Finally, the analyst highlighted the environmental aspect of the potential construction of the EastMed pipeline. “Pipelines produce fewer emissions than LNG, so gas transported by pipelines is more in line with clean energy.”