Greek-Israeli-US naval exercise in area of major energy interest

A trilateral naval exercise between the Greek, Israeli and American navies, dubbed Noble Dina, is planned to begin later this month with nearly a dozen surface ships, submarines and related air assets to engage in joint reconnaissance, counterterror and antisubmarine warfare training.

The exercise will be staged in an area that has produced major hydrocarbon discoveries in recent times and already led to major investments. Two major energy infrastructure projects of Greek interest, the East Med gas pipeline, to link Greece, Israel and Cyprus all the way to the Italian coast, and the Eurasia Interconnector, planned to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli power grids, will be developed in a wider area to serve as part of the arena for the upcoming naval exercise.

Cyprus will participate as an observer in the three-way drill, which is staged annually. It begins in Greece and will conclude in mid-April at the Israeli Navy headquarters in Haifa.

“It’s one of our most important exercises that allows us to hone our proficiencies in very complex scenarios,” Commander Assaf Boneh, the head of international cooperation for the Israeli sea service, told Defense News. “We’ll be training in a vast area from Greece to Israel, and this gives us a lot of room to practice multiple scenarios that require jointness.”

Officials meet in Brussels ahead of East Med ministers meeting

A further step towards the prospective East Med pipeline project’s development is expected to be made today when highly ranked Greek, Cypriot, Israeli and Italian officials meet in Brussels for a meeting on the infrastructure plan to link the European market with major Israeli and Cypriot natural gas deposits.

The four countries will be represented at energy ministry secretary general and management levels. Greece will be represented by the energy ministry’s secretary general Mihalis Veriopoulos.

Financial and technical details concerning the pipeline project will be discussed, while the ground will also be prepared for an imminent meeting between the energy ministers of all four nations on the matter. It is being planned to take place in Israel next month.

There has been much talk as to whether the pipeline project is sustainable or not. If developed, the pipeline, to link Israel, Cyprus and Greece all the way to the Italian coast, will rank as the world’s biggest underwater pipeline project.

A plan presented to the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy by prospective project contributor IGI Poseidon, a 50-50 DEPA (Public Gas Corporation) and Edison venture, put the project’s cost at approximately 5.7 billion dollars. This amount, considerably less than the initially anticipated amount, is expected to make the project technically and commercially viable.

The focus is now turning to details concerning EU funding, expected to cover a significant part of the project’s cost, and developing the pipeline according to schedule, the aim being to launch its operations in 2021.

 

DEPA’s East Med pipeline plan receiving Israeli, US support

The development prospects of the East Med underwater natural gas pipeline being promoted by DEPA, the Public Gas Corporation, as a plan to trasnsmit gas from the east Mediterranean to European market, are being propelled by Israeli and US support.

Commenting about a forthnight ago, Israel’s national infrastructure, energy and water resources minister Yuval Steinitz noted the project could serve as a main natural gas supply channel if the current signs of substantial deposits in areas controlled by Egypt, Cyprus and Israel are proven.

The recent establishment of talks between DEPA and US oil company Noble Energy, which led to the signing of a memorandum of cooperation in June, reflects the US interest in the development of the underwater project, a key part of energy relations linking Greece, Cyprus and Israel.

Noble Energy is the biggest company active in the development and exploitation of deposits in the east Mediterranean. The US energy company holds stakes in an offshore block within Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as well as a major Israeli-conttrolled block, Leviathan.

The developing ties between DEPA and Noble Energy have been propelled by encouraging results produced by two different studies conducted on the pipeline’s technical and financial sustainability.

Until recently, Noble Energy had maintained a reserved stance on the plan to construct an underwater gas pipeline, preferring LNG solutions instead for the export of gas from the Cypriot and Israeli deposits. The US company now appears more open to alternatives.

Greek, Cypriot and Israeli officials are scheduled to meet during the current month in Athens, at the European Commission’s local headquarters, to examine the results of preliminary technical and economic studies conducted on the East Med pipeline. Participants will seek to pave the way for more advanced talks at a summit meeting in Israel this December to involve the energy ministers of Greece, Cyprus and Israel, as well as the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel, Arias Canete.

 

 

East Med project feasible, IGI Poseidon chief tells conference

Elio Ruggeri, CEO of IGI Poseidon, has stressed the importance for southeast Europe of the East Med pipeline, a project to link Greece with major natural gas deposits in Cypriot and Israeli territorial waters, in a speech delivered at an Economist conference in Athens.

Ruggeri noted that the IGI Poseidon consortium is contributing to the effort to develop a natural gas corridor of multiple uses in the wider region, which will include Russian gas, the most important aspect.

“We are making an effort with Gazprom and, by the end of the year, will know whether the idea will lead to some sort of initiative,” Ruggeri remarked.

Ruggeri added that IGI Poseidon will seek to bring East Mediterranean natural gas to Europe via the East Med pipeline, adding that the project is technically and economically feasible. “There were doubts in the past. We examined the technical and economic sustainability through studies conducted by a leading research firm. This study was completed and showed that the project is technically feasible. Without a doubt, the project can be constructed. The project is also economically sustainable,” Ruggeri noted.

He also said that major potential exists for further natural gas discoveries in the East Mediterranean. “This could mean a new Norway. The region wil require many export solutions. Production and export must be co-developed,” he noted.

Poseidon reaches agreement with Noble for East Med preliminary work

Athens-based Poseidon SA, a 50-50 joint venture involving DEPA, the Public Gas Corporation, and Edison, has signed an agreement with Noble Energy International Ltd to finalize preliminary procedures for the East Med pipeline ahead of the project’s Front End Engineering Design (FEED) stage. As part of the agreement, Noble will also conduct a sustainability study for the prospective pipleline, to carry natural gas exports from major deposits discovered in the East Mediterranean region.

The East Med pipeline has been designated as a Project of Common Interest (PCI) and is supported by the EU through the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), a co-funding program.

The East Med project received two million euros in 2015 through the CEF program to fund activies preceding the FEED stage.

Poseidon is involved in the development of three major natural gas pipeline projects, the Poseidon pipeline, a submarine passage linking northwestern Greece with Italy’s south, the IGB, to interconnect northeastern Greece with southern Bulgaria, and the East Med, planned to run from Cyprus to Greece’s northwest via Crete.

The East Med project, including submarine and overland segments, will cover a distance of roughly 1,900 kilometers. It is being planned to carry as many as 16 billion cubic meters of natural gas per yer (bcm/y) from major Levantine Sea deposits located in Cypriot and Israeli territorial waters. The East Med pipeline may also carry possible natural gas deposits in Greek territory.

East Med, combined with the Poseidon and IGB projects, will be able to supply natural gas to Italy and other countries in Europe’s southeast.