Irking Greece, Helping Turkey, US Won’t Back EastMed Gas Line

WASHINGTON – While military and other ties with the United States are tightening, there is some discord in Greece over the administration of President Joe Biden no longer backing the EastMed gas pipeline project, favoring Turkey’s position.

Cyprus, Greece and Israel in January 2020 signed the agreement for the Eastern Mediterranean line designed to transfer between 9 and 12 billion cubic metere a year of offshore gas pumped in fields between Israel and Cyprus to Greece, and on to Italy and other southeastern European countries.

“We remain committed to physically interconnecting East Med energy to Europe. We are shifting our focus to electricity interconnectors that can support both gas and renewable energy sources,” the US State Department said, reported the  EURACTIV Greece.

While the statement said that Europe’s energy security is more than ever a question of national security,it added the US is committed to deepen our regional relationships and promote clean energy technologies.”

That is seen as diplomatic boilerplate aimed at trying to appease everyone involved but the move aligns itself with Turkey at the expense of Greece in keeping with American policy of permanent interests, not permanent friends.

The US is now backing projects such as the planned EuroAfrica subsea electricity interconnector from Egypt to Crete and the Greek mainland, and the proposed EuroAsia interconnector to link the Israeli, Cypriot and European electricity grids.

“Such projects would not only connect vital energy markets but would also help prepare the region for the clean energy transition,” the statement added, but the report noted that Greek media sees Turkey’s hand in the shift.

“Any project disregarding Turkey, who has the longest coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Turkish Cypriots, who have equal rights over the natural resources of the Island of Cyprus, cannot succeed. We bring this fact once more to the attention of the international community,” Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said earlier.

Greek OPEN TV channel said the US believed that EastMed caused tensions in the regions and wanted a refocus on other projects to try to balance interests between competing powers in America’s favor.

The US is interested in selling its own Liqueified Natural Gas (LNG) and it may not want to sponsor competing pipeline gas, the report said, adding that in October, 2021 a European Commission official told the site that EastMed was a “complex project” needing assessment of the European Union’s decarbonization goals and future gas demand.

“The Commission’s analysis from the climate target impact assessment shows that unabated use of natural gas is not compatible with the long-term decarbonization objective,” the official said.

But the EU will be getting even more gas from Russia through the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, for which the Biden Administration waived sanctions to mollify Russian President Vladimir Putin and the bloc’s need for the fuel.

A transition towards climate neutrality will be based on a broad range of energy sources and technology solutions, as well as smarter use of our natural assets, the official not named added.

“Low-carbon gases such as hydrogen, biogas and synthetic gas should progressively replace natural gas. What will be key is that the infrastructure we have or invest in is ready to support these new energy carriers,” the official said, without mentioning Nord Stream 2.

“The commercial viability of Eastmed will very much depend, among other factors, on how much gas there ultimately will be in the region that could be shipped to Greece and Italy and what will be the demand for imports,” the source added.


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