A three-way agreement between Greece, Cyprus and Israel for the development of the East Med natural gas pipeline, planned to carry Cypriot and Israeli natural gas to the EU via Greece and Italy, appears increasingly likely to be signed by the leaders of the three countries at a Tel Aviv summit scheduled for March 20.
A draft of the planned agreement is currently being fine-tuned in Brussels.
Despite the emergence of a growing number of reports contending an agreement is near, objections expressed by Italy’s Five Star Movement, a member of the country’s far-right coalition, could turn into a problem for the East Med pipeline plan.
Italy’s environmental ministry has ordered a new environmental impact study for Italy’s Otranto seaside location, where East Med is planned to reach. Incidentally, the TAP project to carry gas from Azerbaijan to the EU is also planned to reach this spot. The Five Star Movement has also raised environmental concerns over this project.
Lebanon is another country in the region opposing East Med as a result of its ongoing EEZ dispute with Israel. Turkey, not on good terms with Israel and unsettled by the evolving Israeli-Cypriot cooperation, also opposes the project. Cyprus is continuing its hydrocarbon exploration activities, adding to Turkey’s concerns.
Meanwhile, Greek energy minister Giorgos Stathakis arrived in Houston, Texas yesterday to take part in Ceraweek 2019, an international energy conference running until Friday.
Stathakis is scheduled to take part in a panel discussion tomorrow on east Mediterranean developments following recent natural gas discoveries by Cyprus and Israel. His Cypriot, Israeli and Egyptian counterparts will also join this panel.
Sideline talks, by these officials, on regional energy matters are expected.