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Politics

EU Official: East Med Gas Can Wean Bloc Off Russian Energy

October 14, 2022

NICOSIA — Natural gas from undersea deposits in the eastern Mediterranean can help replace Russia’s diminished supply of the fossil fuel to Europe at an “accelerated pace,” the European Union’s energy commissioner said Friday.

Commissioner Kadri Simson told the East Mediterranean Gas Forum conference in the Cypriot capital, Nicosia, that the region can play an increasingly important role as a short- to medium-term supplier of gas, either in liquefied form or through pipelines to EU markets.

She pointed to a June deal for Israel to send more gas to EU countries through Egypt, which has facilities to liquefy it for export by sea.

(Read also: East Mediterranean Gas Forum to Be Held in Nicosia)

The EU has already been successful in recent months in weaning itself off Russian gas, which from as much as 40% of its supply now amounts to less than 10%, Simson said.

But the commissioner said the only lasting solution to the EU’s conundrum amid the energy crunch brought on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a speedy transition to renewables.

“We can never be so dependent on one supplier ever again,” Simson said. “The era of cheap fossil fuels is over and the faster we move to cheap, clean, and home-grown renewables, the sooner we will be immune to Russia’s energy blackmail and anybody else who may think they can blackmail us with energy.”

Simson said the Mediterranean region has a “high potential” to generate renewable hydrogen and that the EU is looking to build partnerships with countries in the region. She said negotiations with Egypt on the issue are already at an advanced stage and an agreement could be finalized during the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Cairo next month.

Hydrogen can be generated by using renewable electricity to extract it from water.

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades also hailed the start of work to build a 2,000-megawatt undersea electricity cable that will link the power grids of Israel, Cyprus and Greece.

The “EuroAsia Interconnector” is touted as the world’s longest and deepest subsea electricity cable, at 1,208 km (750 miles) and 3,000 m (1.9 miles) respectively.

The cable will cost roughly 1.6 billion euros ($1.56 billion) with the EU providing a little under half of that in funding.

Anastasiades said Cyprus can contribute excess renewable energy through the cable ranging from 120 Gigawatt hours at the end of 2027 to 1,000 in 2030 and over 1,800 in 2033.

The East Mediterranean Gas Forum was established three years ago by Greece, Egypt, Italy, Israel, Cyprus, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan as a vehicle to promote energy cooperation.

 

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