Israel, Cyprus and Greece are determined to transport natural gas from the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. After a trilateral meeting in Athens on August 7, Greek Energy Minister Kostis Hatzidakis confirmed that the three countries will be collaborating closely.
“We hope that we will soon be able to sign the relevant agreement,” said Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz. He emphasized the importance of the project for Europe.
Several years ago, large natural gas reserves were discovered in the eastern Mediterranean off the coast of Israel. A pipeline is being planned that will transport the gas first to Cyprus, then to Crete, and finally to mainland Greece. The three countries present at the talks in Athens have not ruled out the possibility that Egypt could also be involved in the project.
The German Press Agency dpa noted that the trilateral project could be extremely significant with respect to the EU’s attempts to diversify its gas supply and reduce its dependence on Russia.
In April, the Council of Europe approved changes to the EU Gas Directive that extend the European regulations to Nord Stream 2, a major gas pipeline from Russia to Europe that is currently under construction.
The amendments have four primary requirements. Firstly, the gas may not be transported by the same company that extracts and sells the resource. The pipeline operator, Nord Stream 2 AG, does not meet this requirement. The second requirement is that there be third party access to the pipeline. In addition, competitive gas transit tariffs will be determined by the German regulator, and the pipeline will have to be run transparently.
In May, US senators Ted Cruz and Jeanne Shaheen drafted a bipartisan bill to impose sanctions on the companies and physical entities involved in the laying of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline on the bottom of the Baltic Sea. The Senate’s International Relations Committee has already approved the document. Next, both houses of US Congress must vote on the bill.