NICOSIA – The Eastern Mediterranean pipeline project from which the United States pulled support over what critics said was trying to appease Turkey’s objections, could pick up support again because of global energy problems, Cypriot Cypriot Minister of Energy, Trade and Industry Natasa Pilides said.
That includes the European Union trying to wean itself off Russian oil and gas that supplies the bloc with more than a third of its energy and has been used as a weapon by Russian President Vladimir Putin, including over his invasion of Ukraine.
Pilides told Kathimerini Cyprus that the project is a medium-term choice for the EU because it would take time to get the needed investments, especially after the US pulled its backing to the unhappiness of Greece and Cyprus.
Greece, Cyprus and Israel have approved an agreement for the EastMed pipeline, which has been in planning for several years and wanted to line up investors this year for the 6 billion euro ($6.63 billion cost.)
The plan was to have it finished by 2025 to help Europe diversify its energy supplies and as a source not named in January told the news agency Reuters that, “The American side expressed to the Greek side reservations as to the rationale of the EastMed pipeline, (and) raised issues of its economic viability and environmental (issues),” one source said.
Pilides said that, “We certainly hope that the development of the Aphrodite deposit and the other deposits in Cyprus will come to the fore, which can be an alternative source of energy supply in the EU and in other markets.”
That was in reference to an oil field exploration off the island’s coast in an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ,) parts of which have been challenged by Turkey, which is unlawfully exploring for energy in Cypriot waters.
Pilides said that, “Whether the EastMed pipeline will be built will definitely depend on the confirmed quantities available for export,” noting that “at the moment the Cypriot confirmed deposits are not enough, but if there is interest from Israel, then EastMed could definitely be an option.”
Asked about EastMed’s sustainability study, Pilides said the data have not changed. “The implementing body has until year-end to complete the sustainability studies and make the final investment decision,” she said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier said that the US pulled its backing not because of political pressure but after determing that the cost was not viable to make it work.
The line is being designed to carry some 10 billion cubic meters of Israeli and Cypriot natural gas annually via a 1,180-mile pipeline to Greece, and into Europe’s gas network via Italy, the news service also reported.
“This project is not something that can happen. They [the United States] carried out all the analyses, and they saw it had no positive sides,” Erdoğan told reporters during a visit to Albania on broadcaster NTV, as cited by Reuters. “In other words, the cost calculations don’t add up,” he also added.