Energean Israeli exploration to focus on gas deposits estimated at 62 bcm

Energean Oil & Gas will now focus its Israeli exploration activities on the Karish, Tanin and Block 12 fields in an effort to boost its certified natural gas and liquid hydrocarbon reserves.

Following yesterday’s announcements by the Greek company, according to which an independent Competent Persons Report by DeGolyer and MacNaughton certifies 98.2 Bcm (3.5 Tcf) of gas and 99.6 million barrels of liquids (MMbbls) at the Karish, Karish North and Tanin offshore fields of Israel, the exploration program will restart in 2022 for a boost of reserves through the Karish, Tanin and Block 12 licenses. Energean plans to stage its next drilling efforts in two years.

Estimates indicate 62 billion cubic meters of natural gas and 33.4 million barrels of liquid hydrocarbons, representing 431 million barrels of oil equivalent.

Energean will also focus on Block 12 targets – named after the Greek gods Zeus, Hera, Apollo, Athena and Hestia – estimated to carry prospective gas reserves measuring 32.7 billion cubic meters, more than half the overall 62 billion cubic meters.

Discovery of these prospective reserves is expected to further reinforce the Greek company’s standing on the southeast Mediterranean energy map.

EuroAsia project moving again, Egypt present with EuroAfrica

Development of the wider region’s two major electricity grid interconnections, the EuroAsia Interconnector, to link Greece, from Crete, with Cyprus and Israel, and EuroAfrica Interconnector, a complementary project to link Cyprus with the African continent via Egypt, was discussed at a meeting in Nicosia yesterday between Greece’s energy minister Costis Hatzidakis and his Cypriot counterpart Natasa Pilides.

Progress at EuroAsia Interconnector, whose launch is scheduled for late in 2023, was held back by a Greek-Cypriot dispute prompted by Greek power grid operator IPTO’s withdrawal of the wider project’s Crete-Athens segment from EuroAsia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests.

The Crete-Athens segment is now being developed as a national project by IPTO and subsidiary Ariadne Interconnection.

EuroAsia Interconnector and EuroAfrica Interconnector promise to develop Cyprus into an electricity hub. A 310-km cable from Israel and a 498-km line from Egypt will converge at coastal Kofinou, in Cyprus’ south. From this hub, an 898-km cable is planned to link Cyprus with Crete before reaching Athens.

At yesterday’s meeting, the Greek and Cypriot energy ministers primarily focused on EuroAsia Interconnector, the Crete-Cyprus-Israel project, at a more mature stage.

Budgeted at 2.5 billion euros, this project, regarded as an EU Project of Common Interest, will promote regional energy security and further RES penetration in all three participating countries, Hatzidakis noted. The EU, it is estimated, will need to contribute at least half the project’s value.

Cyprus is the only EU member state without electricity grid interconnections.

Germany’s Siemens was awarded a procurement contract last May for EuroAsia Interconnector’s HVDC converter stations, budgeted at 623 million euros.

EuroAsia Interconnector was initially planned to offer 2 GW but this capacity has been halved, for the time being, as the other 1 GW will be used for the Crete-Athens grid interconnection.

EuroAsia Interconnector’s Israel-Cyprus segment is budgeted at 900 million euros while the cost of the bigger Cyprus-Crete section is estimated between 1.6 and 1.8 billion euros.

 

Energean Israel signs deals for sale of extra 1.4 bcm/yr from Karish project

Energean Israel (Energean, 70%) has signed two new Gas Sales and Purchase Agreements, which, combined, represent gas quantities of up to 1.4 bcm/yr and increase total firm contracted gas sales from its flagship Karish project to approximately 7.0 bcm/yr on plateau, Energean plc has announced in a statement.

The new agreements represent contracted revenues of more than $2.5 billion over the life of the contracts, but require no further capital investment beyond Karish North, upon which Energean Israel expects to take Final Investment Decision later this year. The GSPAs have been signed at levels that are aligned with the other large, long-term contracts within Energean’s portfolio and are only subject to buyers’ lenders’ consent

The majority of the quantities are represented by a GSPA to supply gas to the Ramat Hovav Power Plant Limited Partnership (“RH Partnership”), a partnership between the Edeltech Group and Shikun & Binui. RH Partnership was the winning bidder in the Israel Electric Corporation (“IEC”) Ramat Hovav tender process, the second IEC power plant in a series of five to be privatised. The GSPA is for a term of up to 20 years and contains provisions regarding floor pricing for the main plateau period and exclusivity. The annual contract quantity (“ACQ”) reduces after the first seven years following first gas from Karish.

The remainder of the quantities are represented by a second new GSPA that has been signed with an affiliate of the RH Partnership for the supply of gas for other existing power stations. Gas supply will commence following first gas from Karish, achieving the plateau rate from January 2024. The contract term is for up to 15 years and the GSPA contains provisions regarding floor pricing for the main plateau period and take-or-pay.

Energean Israel (Energean 70%) now has firm GSPAs in place for the supply of approximately 7.0 bcm/yr on plateau. Having secured sufficient resources to fill the FPSO for a number of years, Energean’s near-term strategy is to secure the necessary offtake to fill the remaining 1.0 bcm/yr of spare capacity in the 8 bcm/yr Energean Power FPSO. Energean is assessing several opportunities in both the Israeli domestic market and key export markets in order to meet this target, alongside reviewing further growth opportunities across the nine exploration blocks that it holds in Israel to further expand its presence in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Mathios Rigas, Energean’s CEO, commented: “We are delighted to have signed these additional gas sales agreements, which increase firm gas sales to 7 bcm/yr on plateau from our flagship Karish gas project, which is on track to deliver first gas in 2H 2021 and I want to thank Edeltech and Shikun & Binui for their continued trust.

We remain committed to continue bringing competition and security of supply to the Israeli gas market even after we fill the Karish FPSO to its maximum 8 bcm/yr capacity.

The new contracts we signed today further strengthen our secured revenues stream, which is well-insulated against future commodity price fluctuations, and provide cash flows that will support our strategic goal of paying a sustainable dividend to our shareholders.”

 

US investments in Greek RES sector rising, LNG imports up

New US investments in Greece’s RES sector are on the rise, the energy ministry has stressed following a meeting yesterday between Greek energy minister Costis Hatzidakis and the U.S. Ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey Pyatt, for a discussion on major energy project plans in the wider region and the related American investment activity.

U.S. companies such as ONEX, Black Summit, with support from DFC (International Development Finance Corporation), Quantum Energy Partners, National Energy, General Electric, Fortress Investment Group, Blink and Tesla are all currently pursuing investments in the Greek market.

Hatzidakis, the energy minister, expressed satisfaction over the level of foreign investments in Greece, noting U.S. participation has significantly increased, especially in the energy sector.

Last month, 547 Energy, an American renewable energy venture backed by Quantum Energy Partners, participated for a third time in a row in a RES auction staged by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, adding 107 MW in wind energy capacity to its Greek portfolio for a current tally of eight RES projects and 390 MW, the energy ministry noted.

National Energy is drawing American funds to develop wind and solar energy projects in Greece with a total capacity of 270 MW, the statement added.

Also, the energy ministry noted, General Electric has supplied equipment for a wind energy farm in Fokida, west of Athens, a project being partially financed by the Fortress Investment Group; Blink recently began an investment plan in the electromobility sector, for rechargers and other equipment; while Tesla, a producer, amongst other things, of electric vehicles, recently announced a plan to expand its operations into Greece.

During their meeting, Hatzidakis and Pyatt also discussed the partnership between Greece, Cyprus and Israel, plus the U.S.

The progress of work at the Greek-Bulgarian IGB gas pipeline, whose geostrategic importance was stressed by the Greek minister, was also addressed. A closer association with Bulgarian contractors is being sought for the project’s punctual delivery.

Work on the Alexandroupoli FSRU in northeastern Greece is progressing at a satisfactory pace, the two officials agreed, noting the project will have a positive impact on geostrategic and energy matters.

The U.S. supplied nearly half of the 2,651,903 cubic meters of LNG imported into Greece in the first half of 2020, almost quadruple the amount supplied by America to Greece during the equivalent period a year earlier.

Rescue talks for Prinos, Greece’s only producing field, making progress

Talks between Energean Oil & Gas and officials at the energy and economy ministries for a solution to rescue offshore Prinos, Greece’s only producing field in the north, are making progress, sources have informed.

Heightened Turkish provocations in the Aegean Sea over the past few days – the neighboring country sent a survey vessel into Greece’s EEZ – and greater US presence in the wider southeast Mediterranean region, are two developments that have injected further urgency into the Prinos field rescue talks.

The east Mediterranean is at the core of geopolitical developments that promise to create new political and energy sector conditions.

US oil corporation Chevron, America’s second-biggest energy group, has joined fellow American upstream giant ExxonMobil in the east Mediterranean with a five billion-dollar acquisition of Noble Energy.

This takeover by the California-based buyer adds to the Chevron portfolio the gigantic Leviathan gas field in Israel’s EEZ, as well as the Aphrodite gas field, situated within the Cypriot EEZ and estimated to hold 4.5 trillion cubic feet.

It also offers Chevron prospective roles in the East Med pipeline, to supply Europe via the Leviathan field, and Egypt’s LNG infrastructure, all elevating the petroleum group into a dominant regional player.

Israel and Cyprus recently ratified the East Med agreement, as has Greece, while Italy appears to be examining the prospect.

In another regional development, the Total-ENI-ELPE consortium is preparing to conduct seismic surveys at licenses south and southwest of Crete, and an environmental study southeast of Crete has been approved by Greek authorities. Also, oil majors with interests in Cyprus’ EEZ have planned a series of drilling operations for 2021.

Meanwhile, Turkey, trespassing into both Greek and Cypriot EEZ waters, consistently cites a memorandum recently signed with Libya as support for its actions, as well as its refusal to sign the UN’s International Law of the Sea treaty, strongly disagreeing with an article that gives EEZ and continental shelf rights to island areas.

Greek government officials are well aware that closure of the Prinos field amid such precarious conditions would lead to major consequences, not just economic and social, as would be the case under normal conditions, but also geopolitical.

Turkey tensions will not be escalated, ‘aim achieved’

Turkey will not continue intensifying its provocations in the East Mediterranean as the neighboring country has already achieved its main goal, a State Department declaration noting that the country is performing hydrocarbon exploration activities in disputed territory, Dr Konstantinos Nikolaou, a seasoned petroleum geologist and energy economist, supports.

Turkey’s provocations over the past few days – the country sent a seismic survey vessel into Greek EEZ waters for further exploration work following such initiatives in the past – represent part of a carefully planned strategy whose aim is to end Turkey’s East Mediterranean isolation of recent years and put the country back in the frame of the region’s hydrocarbon developments, experts believe.

Turkey has refused to sign the UN’s International Law of the Sea treaty, strongly disagreeing with Article 121, giving EEZ and continental shelf rights to island areas.

Instead, the country has followed its own rules, adjusting them as it pleases, to avoid giving any rights to island areas.

Besides seeking to reinforce the country’s position that rejects any EEZ rights for islands, the latest Turkish moves also aim to cancel EEZ agreements signed by Cyprus with Egypt, Israel and Lebanon.

Turkey has unsuccessfully sought to sign an EEZ agreement with Egypt, during Muslim Brotherhood times.

Dr. Nikolaou predicts that there will be no Turkish movement south of Crete as the transfer of an area by Libya, Turkey’s regional partner, would be required. The area of Benghazi is not controlled by Fayez al-Sarraj, the head of Libya’s UN-recognized government, but by renegade commander Khalifa Haftar.

Ultimately, the Turkish strategy in the wider region is aiming for co-exploitation of hydrocarbon deposits that may be discovered.

Chevron buys Noble Energy, US striving for regional control

Energy corporation Chevron has become the latest American giant, following ExxonMobil, to establish itself in the east Mediterranean upstream market following a five billion-dollar acquisition of Noble Energy, a deal that adds the gigantic Leviathan gas field in Israel’s EEZ to the California-based buyer’s portfolio and elevates the petroleum group into a dominant regional player.

This latest development highlights America’s strategy for the region, aiming to establish US control of production at new gas fields as well as supply to Europe, analysts noted.

Chevron’s acquisition of Noble Energy, highlighting the upstream industry’s elevated interest in the east Mediterranean, comes amid increased regional tension prompted by Turkish provocation. Greece’s neighbor has just sent a seismic survey vessel into Greek waters for hydrocarbon exploration activities.

Besides the Leviathan gas field’s recoverable reserves, estimated at 22 trillion cubic feet, the Chevron portfolio now also takes on Israel’s Tamar field, whose gas reserves are estimated at 7.1 trillion cubic feet.

Noble has proved reserves of 2.05 billion barrels of oil and gas to add to Chevron’s reported 11.4 billion.

Chevron, whose earnings in 2019 reached 139.9 billion euros, also adds to its assets, totaling 237.4 billion dollars, the Aphrodite gas field, situated within the Cypriot EEZ and estimated to hold 4.5 trillion cubic feet. Noble Energy is among this field’s operators.

Chevron’s control of the Leviathan gas field also secures American influence over the EastMed gas pipeline planned by Israel, Cyprus and Greece.

Fellow American petroleum giant ExxonMobil recently discovered, within the Cypriot EEZ, the Glafkos gas field, estimated to carry between 5 and 8 trillion cubic feet of gas. ExxonMobil has also taken on major licenses in Egypt and is also a member of a consortium formed with France’s Total and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) for licenses at offshore blocks west and southwest of Crete.

 

Cyprus wants unchanged cost agreement for link with Crete

Though a new application submitted by EuroAsia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests, to the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility for funding support concerning an electricity grid interconnection project to link the Greek and Cypriot systems has yet to be examined or reciprocated by the European Commission, Greece and Cyprus have already begun talks on how to divide the remainder of the project’s costs not covered by the CEF.

The Cypriot side, which took the initiative for these talks, appears determined to ensure that Greece will stick to its share of the cost under the terms agreed to when the project also included the Athens-Crete link as part of a wider plan to interconnect the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli systems.

EuroAsia Interconnector head the wider Greek-Cypriot-Israeli plan. Greek power grid operator IPTO withdrew the Athens-Crete segment and is now working on it as a national project. IPTO is aiming for swifter progress on this section, urgently needed to resolve Crete’s pressing energy sufficiency issues.

Cyprus’ Regulatory Authority for Energy, RAEK, has forwarded to its Greek counterpart RAE a text presenting its cost-related views. RAEK wants to ensure that a Cross Border Cost Allocation agreement signed by the two sides late in 2017 for the Greek-Cypriot link, running from Crete to Cyprus, remains valid, despite Greece’s withdrawal of the Athens-Crete section.

According to the CBCA agreement, Cyprus will take on 63 percent of the cost of the Crete-Cyprus link and Greece will be responsible for the other 37 percent, under the condition that 50 percent of the total cost will be covered by EU funds, through the CEF.

The Crete-Cyprus interconnection is budgeted at 1.5 billion euros, meaning Greece’s share will be approximately 280 million euros.

This amount will be incorporated into IPTO’s accounts and need to be recovered through network surcharges included in consumer electricity bills, seen as a delicate matter by the Greek government.

Greek authorities have yet to respond to RAEK’s initiative as they await news from the European Commission on the CEF request.

Poseidon overland section plan kept alive, PCI status sought

IGI Poseidon, a 50-50 joint venture between Greek gas utility DEPA and Italian energy operator Edison, is keeping alive the development prospects of an overland Greek segment, across northern Greece, for its Poseidon pipeline, to cross the Ionian Sea for a Greek-Italian link.

DEPA and Edison have submitted an application to the European Commission for PCI status concerning the overland section of Poseidon, enabling EU funding support, sources informed.

The Poseidon pipeline’s onshore segment, planned to stretch 760 km across northern Greece, from Kipous in the northeast, to Florovouni-Thesprotia, in the country’s northwest, before crossing the Ionian Sea all the way to Otranto, on Italy’s east coast, is considered an extension of the EastMed gas pipeline plan to link Greece, Cyprus and Israel.

Poseidon’s onshore segment could be used to transport natural gas from east Mediterranean gas reserves to Balkan markets.

The Poseidon pipeline’s overland section can also be expected to be linked to the Greek-Bulgarian IGB gas pipeline, another project involving IGI Poseidon.

The Greek-Italian Poseidon pipeline has been incorporated into a trilateral agreement signed by Greece, Cyprus and Israel for the EastMed pipeline. This pact was ratified in Greek Parliament last month.

Greece, Cyprus and Israel recognize the overland section of the Poseidon pipeline as a project of national significance.

Capacity of the Poseidon pipeline has been increased to 15 bcm from an original capacity of 8 bcm, while a further capacity boost to 20 bcm is planned.

 

Greece, Cyprus, Israel, with US, plan for EastMed meeting next month

The energy ministers of Greece, Cyprus and Israel plan to stage a trilateral meeting next month, with US involvement, for talks on the prospective EastMed gas pipeline, to transport gas from Israeli and Cypriot fields to Europe via Greece and Italy.

It remains uknown if Francis Fanon, the US Assistant Secretary of State and head of the country’s energy portfolio, will participate at this meeting.

It also remains unclear if participants will stage a virtual conference as a result of pandemic measures or meet in person.

The Greek, Cypriot and US governments were waiting for the new Israeli government to be sworn in before shaping plans for the EastMed meeting, to also serve as a second energy conference between the four nations following an inaugural session in Athens last August.

Yuval Steinitz has been reappointed at Israel’s top energy post, meaning the line-up of last year’s session between the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli energy ministers can be repeated at the next meeting. Greece’s Costis Hatzidakis and Cyprus’ Giorgos Lakkotrypis are still at their posts.

The Greek, Cypriot and Israeli government officials are expected to reaffirm the commitment of their respective countries to the EastMed gas pipeline, as well as commitment to cooperation for regional peace and prosperity, sources said.

Also, the energy ministers of Greece, Cyprus and Israel, along with the session’s US representative, will seek to send Turkey a unified message on its provocative actions against Greece as well as increased aggression in the wider southeast Mediterranean region.

A trilateral EastMed gas pipeline agreement was approved in Greek Parliament last January.

Israel could soon reach a decision on the financing of some of the studies needed for the international pipeline’s link to the national grid.

Also, IGI Poseidon, a consortium comprising Greek gas utility DEPA and Italy’s Edison, is moving ahead with studies for the pipeline’s underwater and overland route between Greece and Italy. IGI Poseidon wants to make an investment decision on this project within the next two years. Meanwhile, Cyprus is making progress on licensing matters.

Committee to oversee Greece, Cyprus, Israel grid link compatibility

Greek power grid operator IPTO, its Cypriot counterpart, DSMK, and project partners have been authorized by the energy ministries of the two countries to assemble a special committee tasked with ensuring technical compatibility between the prospective Athens-Crete grid interconnection and the planned Cypriot and Israeli links.

The Athens-Crete grid interconnection, work on which is set to begin, will be developed by IPTO subsidiary Ariadne Interconnector, following the Greek grid operator’s break away from Cyprus’ EuroAsia Interconnector, originally formed to oversee the entire interconnection project, from Greece to Israel, but now handling its Cyprus and Israel segments.

The Greek and Cypriot energy ministries have asked IPTO, DSKK, Ariadne Interconnector and EuroAsia Interconnector to assemble the special committee within the next fortnight.

Greece’s energy ministry is determined to contribute to all efforts resolving any technical issues for the wider Greek-Cypriot-Israeli interconnection but development of the Athens-Crete section, nationally significant as it promises to prevent energy shortages on Crete, remains the ministry’s main concern at this stage, sources informed.

The Greek government is providing strong political support to the Crete-Cyprus and Cyprus-Israel segments, the energy ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou has pointed out, noting Cyprus’ grid interconnection with the rest of the EU promises to help the country achieve RES objectives set for 2030.

Energean Power FPSO hull sails away from China

Energean Oil & Gas’ Enegean Power FPSO hull sailed away from the COSCO yard in China today and will now be towed to the Sembcorp Marine Admiralty Yard in Singapore, where the topsides will be integrated, before the completed FPSO is towed to the Karish field in Israel for installation and hook-up, the company has announced in a statement.

The sailaway of the hull from China represents the achievement of a key milestone in the Karish project timetable, the statement noted.

During the construction of the hull in China, more than 5 million man hours free of LTI’s have been completed. Including the construction of the topsides in Singapore and other relevant works, more than 10 million man hours free of LTI’s have been completed so far in the construction of the Energean Power FPSO.

Energean has also successfully completed the drilling of the three development wells in the Karish Main field and is confident that the three development wells can produce at combined rates of 800 mmscf/d, which is sufficient to fill the capacity of the FPSO (8 BCM per year), the company statement added.

On another important development, the Karish gas sales pipeline (30 & 24 inch) was shipped from Greece last week and offloaded successfully at Limassol Port, Cyprus.

The pipeline will be loaded from the Limassol port on PSVs and from them on the Karish Field pipe-laying vessel Solitaire.

The gas sales pipeline of approximately 90 km will transport gas from the Enegean Power FPSO to an onshore valve station at the Dor landfall in Israel.

First gas on the Karish project is on track for H1 2021.

Update on the Edison E&P acquisition

Also, Energean and Edison have entered into a formal amendment to the Sale and Pusrchase Agreement on 2 April 2020, in which:

  • the Algerian Assets shall be excluded from the scope of the acquisition of Edison E&P;
  • in recognition of the exclusion of the Algerian Assets, there will be an adjustment to the total consideration of the acquisition of approximately $150 million (as at the lock-box date of 1st January 2019).

Energean is working to complete the acquisition of Edison E&P as soon as is possible in 2020, subject to the approval of its shareholders and the other relevant governments, the company statement noted. Thereafter, completion of Energean’s agreement for the sale of Edison E&P’s UK and Norwegian subsidiaries to Neptune for a consideration of $250 Million plus contingent consideration of up to $30 million (as previously announced), will be completed as soon as is reasonably practicable, it added.

 

 

Greece looks to build on Italian East Med interest at Cairo event

Energy minister Costis Hatzidakis will be looking to build on yesterday’s interest expressed by Greek gas grid operator DESFA’s main shareholders – Snam, Enagas and Fluxys – in the planned East Med gas pipeline project, especially Italy’s Snam, when he meets with regional counterparts at the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum in Cairo, an event encouraging collaboration on gas trade in the region.

The energy ministers of Greece, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Italy, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority are scheduled to participate at the Cairo event.

Snam chief executive Marco Alvera expressed particular interest in the East Med gas pipeline at a meeting yesterday involving Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the chiefs of the Italian company’s DESFA partners, Enagas and Fluxys.

Snam’s interest in the prospective East Med gas pipeline, to carry natural gas from Cypriot and Israeli fields to the EU via Italy, follows that of Energean and represents further investor confidence in the sustainability of the pipeline as it possesses commercial appeal for gas producers in the east Mediterranean as well as gas sales.

Participants at the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum are hoping the event is upgraded into a transboundary organization for gas cooperation. If an agreement on a forum charter is achieved, a signing ceremony will take place in Cairo tomorrow.

Besides participating at the forum, Hatzidakis, Greece’s energy minister, has also lined up meetings with his Cypriot, Israeli and Egyptian counterparts, Giorgos Lakkotrypis, Yuval Steinitz and Tarek el-Molla, respectively, for talks on the next steps needed to develop the East Med pipeline.

In addition, Hatzidakis will discuss prospective electricity grid interconnections between Greece and Egypt and also meet with Italy’s economic development minister Stefano Patuanelli, responsible for the country’s energy portfolio, who recently forwarded a letter of support for the East Med project to his Greek counterpart.

East Med pipeline to upgrade geostrategic role of participants

The EastMed Pipeline Agreement, a trilateral deal signed by the energy ministers of Greece, Cyprus and Israel in Athens yesterday with the leaders of all three countries in attendance, includes provisions for measures to protect and safeguard the pipeline project, sources have informed.

Other details in the agreement, fundamental to the region’s energy developments, include a regulatory and licensing framework facilitating the project’s development, common tax rules, as well as terms enabling the entry of new members and transmission of additional natural gas quantities from existing or new gas fields, including south of Crete, should any new deposits be discovered in the region.

The agreement upgrades the geostrategic roles of Greece and Cyprus and is a crowning achievement for the three-way cooperation established between the two countries and Israel, noted Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

The 2,000-km pipeline is planned to carry between 10 to 20 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Europe via the three countries and Italy.

Addressing the heightened Turkish provocation of late, the Greek leader noted that the pipeline does not pose a threat for any side, adding regional cooperation is open for all provided rules of good neighborliness and international law are respected.

Following up on the recent commencement of production at the Leviathan gas field off the coast of Israel, the EastMed Pipeline Agreement establishes Israel as a key energy player in the region, stressed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The project promises to offer major collective benefit for the three countries involved as well as the wider region, noted Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.

Earlier yesterday, Greek gas utility DEPA and Energean Oil & Gas, active in the wider Mediterranean region, signed a Letter of Intent at the energy ministry through which DEPA will be able to purchase natural gas quantities from Energean, extracting at Israeli gas field licenses.

DEPA, in a company announcement, described the Letter of Intent as a major first step for the East Med project’s commercial viability.

Trilateral East Med agreement set to be signed in Athens today

The energy ministers of Greece, Cyprus and Israel are set to sign a trilateral agreement in Athens this afternoon for the development of East Med, a natural gas pipeline to carry gas to Europe via the three countries and Italy.

The pipeline, planned to measure 2,000 km and offer a capacity ranging between 10 to 20 billion cubic meters, promises to reinforce the Greek-Cypriot-Israeli alliance amid times of heightened Turkish provocation in the region.

Italian economic development minister Stefano Patuanelli, responsible for the country’s energy portfolio, has forwarded a letter of support for the project to Greek energy minister Costis Hatzidakis.

The Greek minister will sign the East Med agreement today with Giorgos Lakkotrypis and Yuval Steinitz, his Cypriot and Israeli counterparts, respectively. Italy is also expected to eventually join the partnership for this project.

Just hours before this signing ceremony, planned for 15:45, Greek gas utility DEPA and Energean Oil & Gas, active in the wider Mediterranean region, will sign a Letter of Intent at the energy ministry.

Importantly, this agreement promises to pave the way for a first commercial agreement reserving natural gas quantities ahead of the East Med pipeline’s construction, as DEPA will commit to purchasing natural gas quantities from Energean, extracting at Israeli gas field licenses. These quantities will represent approximately 20 percent of the East Med pipeline’s initial capacity.

The development prospects of East Med were recently propelled by a decision from IGI Poseidon, a 50-50 joint venture involving DEPA and Italy’s Edison, to accelerate the completion of all pending issues needed for the project’s maturity.

An upcoming East Med Gas Forum, to take place in Cairo January 15 and 16 with participation from the energy ministers of Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, should help add further dimension to the alliance.

The East Med pipeline, planned as a complementary route to other projects in the wider region, stands as the most mature component of an EU plan entailing the development of an energy corridor to connect new energy sources in the east Mediterranean with European markets, including the southeast European market.

 

DEPA, Edison firm on East Med amid Turkish provocation

Italy’s Edison, part of the Poseidon consortium formed with Greek gas utility DEPA for the development of the East Med gas pipeline – planned to transport natural gas from Israeli and Cypriot fields to the EU via Greece and Italy – has decided to accelerate pre-construction procedures following escalating provocation from Turkey, energypress has reported.

A decision was reached at a recent Poseidon meeting in Milan to assign all needed project studies, financially backed by the EU, within the next two months for swifter completion of preliminary procedures, and, by extension, the project itself, a 2,000-km pipeline.

Greece’s energy minister Costis Hatzidakis and his Israeli counterpart Yuval Steinitz reiterated their support for the project at a recent meeting.

Turkey, seeking to block the project, recently reached a maritime border agreement with Libya, which EU leaders are set to reject as invalid, insisting the pact interferes with the rights of other countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.

Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Hristodoulidis has received reassurances from Israeli government officials that the country is not involved in talks with Ankara for the development of an alternative gas pipeline, according to a Cypriot newspaper report. Israel remains committed to the East Med plan, it added.

DEPA’s Poseidon stake will be transferred to the Greek gas utility’s division for international projects. DEPA is being split ahead of its upcoming privatization.

Energean Israel signs GSPA with MRC

Energean Israel and MRC Alon Tavor Ltd. have signed a Gas Sales and Purchase Agreement (GSPA) for the sale of approximately 0.5Bcm/yr, or up to 8 Bcm over the term of the contract, Energean Oil and Gas, the oil and gas producer focused on the Mediterranean, has announced in a statement.

Supply will commence at Karish first gas and the contract term is for a period of 15 years from the date of signature, according to the statement. The GSPA is linked to the Israeli Electricity Production Index and has floor pricing and take-or-pay provisions, the statement added.

Energean estimates the GSPA will add revenues in excess of $1 billion over the term of the contract.

Energean also recently signed a contract amendment with OPCRotem that accelerated the rate of gas consumption and increased annual gas supply by 0.2Bcm/yr. This was accompanied by a shortening of the contract term such that there was no change in the total contract quantity of gas.

Energean now has firm GSPAs for the supply of 5.0Bcm/yr of gas into the Israeli domestic market, excluding the contingent GSPAs that have been signed with I.P.M Beer Tuvia (0.4Bcm/yr) and Or Power Energies (“Or”) (0.7Bcm/yr).

Energean submits applications to import, supply gas to Cyprus

Energean Oil & Gas, the oil and gas producer focused on the Mediterranean, has submitted applications to Cypriot authorities for import and supply of natural gas to Cyprus commencing 2021, the company has announced.

The submission of the applications follows the ‘Karish to Cyprus Preliminary Pipeline Development Plan’ that has already been presented to the Cyprus Energy Regulatory Authority, according to which, natural gas will be transported through pipelines from the Karish offshore block to the “Energean Power” Floating Production, Storage and Offloading unit, and from there through a pipeline to Vassiliko, Cyprus, where it will landfall.

The pipeline from the Energean Power FPSO to Vassiliko will have a total length of 215 kilometres and transport natural gas from the Karish North field, offshore Israel, which contains 25 BCM of discovered recoverable resources. Total investment will be circa $350 million and will be funded by Energean.

The Republic of Cyprus will bear no upfront cost. Provided that there will be no delays in permitting procedures, the project will allow the Republic of Cyprus to receive competitively priced natural gas from 2021.

Moreover, the project will further strengthen Cyprus’ geostrategic role in the Eastern Mediterranean, in accordance with the trilateral cooperation between Cyprus, Israel and Greece and in reference to the East Med Pipeline project that is planned to transport natural gas to Europe.

Mathios Rigas, CEO of Energean, stated:

“Energean’s proposal offers the Republic of Cyprus the option to switch to natural gas as soon as possible, and under the most competitive terms. Execution of the proposal will bring competition to the Cypriot natural gas market, decrease energy costs across the economy and result in enhanced diversity and security of supply. Our proposal enhances the planning of the Republic of Cyprus and the security of supply, as it is supplementary to the LNG import procedures launched by the Cypriot Government.

We expect that the Republic of Cyprus will take advantage of the options that the market offers for the benefit of the Cypriot economy and the consumers”.

Energean has already signed Letters of Intent (LOIs) with all three IPPs that have been granted a license to construct combined cycle power plants in Cyprus – Power Energy Cyprus, Lysarea Energia and Paramount Energy Corporation.

The Energean Power FPSO has a capacity of 8BCM per year and Energean has already signed firm GSPAs with Israeli IPPs and industrial consumers for 4.5 BCM per year for an average period of 16 years as of 2021.

 

PM decision on Crete link, wider PCI plan support needed today

Negotiations ran throughout the day until late last night as all sides involved sought to determine if an agreement is possible on the prospective Crete-Athens power grid interconnector and whether the wider Athens-Crete-Cyprus-Israel interconnection, an EU project of common interest (PCI), remains feasible under the current conditions.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis must inform the European Commission  today on whether Athens supports the wider PCI project, a stance that would incorporate the Athens-Crete segment, or pursue this segment separately as a national project.

A European Commission PCI committee is meeting today to discuss the EU’s new PCI list for the next two years.

Greek power grid operator IPTO has been embroiled in a dispute with Cypriot consortium EuroAsia Interconnector over development control of the wider project’s Crete-Athens segment. EuroAsia Interconnector heads the wider project and has been joined by Elia, Belgium’s electricity transmission system operator, in a strategic alliance.

The Cypriot side entered yesterday’s negotiations with a slightly improved offer but the Greek side still considers it insufficient for constructive talks.

The Greek government has set red lines for the Athens-Crete segment, including no further delays for ongoing tenders offering converter station contracts, which effectively means technical term revisions will not be accepted. Greek officials insist compatibility for the wider project is ensured.

Gov’t making last-ditch effort for Cypriot deal on Crete grid link

The government, determined to move ahead with the country’s grid interconnection projects in support of economic and environmental concerns, is making a final effort to establish cooperation between Greek power grid operator IPTO and Cypriot consortium EuroAsia Interconnector, at odds for development control of a grid project to link Crete with Athens.

The EuroAsia Interconnector consortium heads a wider PCI-status project to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli grids.

“We need to have made decisions by October 4. Grid Interconnections are a priority for environmental and economic reasons,” energy minister Costis Hatzidakis stressed yesterday, speaking at a conference staged by the Hellenic Entrepreneurs Association (EENE).

The government is seeking to make the most of ongoing visits to Greece by Cypriot minister of energy, commerce industry and tourism Giorgos Lakkotrypis and former foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides, now Euroasia Interconnector’s Chairman of the Strategic Council.

The Greek energy ministry has not ruled out an agreement with Euroasia Interconnector for the Crete-Athens grid link but has made clear swift development of the project is the top priority. A Greek-Cypriot-Israeli grid interconnection is still desired by the Greek government but the Cretan link is seen as even more crucial, Hatzidakis, the energy minister, is insisting, according to sources.

Euroasia Interconnector and the European Commission have requested the cancellation of a decision by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, awarding the Cretan project to Ariadne, a fully-owned IPTO subsidiary. This would delay progress.

“The only remaining prospect for cooperation would require Euroasia to provide the needed capital for a stake in Ariadne. But the Cypriot consortium appears unwilling or unable to do this,” an official deeply involved in the matter has informed.

The Cretan grid link project will be continued as a national project if current talks with the Cypriot side do not lead to any agreement, sources informed. If so, the Greek government is expected to deliver a pending reply to Brussels making clear that it does not support the entire Athens-Crete-Cyprus-Israel project.

Meanwhile, prospective bidders of a tender concerning the Crete-Athens grid interconnection project’s engineering, procurement and construction of two converter stations and a GIS substation have been given a further deadline extension. An initial August 30 deadline had been reset for September 30 before the latest extension.

Greek, Cypriot, Israeli officials seeking Italy’s East Med return

Greek, Cypriot and Israeli officials are working on details of a plan aiming to win back Rome’s support for the East Med pipeline, an ambitious 1,900-km pipeline to carry southeast Mediterranean natural gas from Israel to Europe via  Italy.

Efforts by Washington and Brussels to lure back Italy, whose coalition government has withdrawn the country’s support for the project, are pivotal.

Part of the overall diplomatic effort may be unveiled at an Athens energy summit today.

The Greek, Cypriot and Israeli energy ministers, Costis Hatzidakis, Giorgos Lakkotrypis and Yuval Steinitz, respectively, as well as US Assistant Secretary Francis Fannon, are taking part in the summit.

Fannon held successive meetings in Athens yesterday with Greece’s energy minister and the deputy foreign minister Konstantinos Fragogiannis. The East Med project’s promotion was a key subject of these meetings, especially Fannon’s talks with Hatzidakis, Greece’s energy minister.

Last May, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, heading Italy’s right-wing populist coalition, declared Rome does not want the East Med pipeline to land on Italian territory. Instead, he proposed the pipeline’s link to TAP, another gas pipeline project being developed to carry Azerbaijani natural gas to Europe, via Italy.

East Med is envisioned to primarily carry deposits from Cyprus’ recently discovered “Aphrodite” gas field and the Israeli-controlled block “Leviathan” along a route stretching from Israel to Europe, also via Italy.

In response to Italy’s stance, Israel now appears to favor an alternate route for East Med that would avoid ending up on the Italian coast. Experts regard this prospect as difficult but not impossible as the pipeline project is still at the planning stage. Greece and Cyprus prefer Italy’s incorporation into the pipeline route.

 

 

New effort for East Med agreement at Athens energy summit

Greek gas utility DEPA and Italian energy giant Edison, collaborating on a plan to develop the East Med pipeline, envisioned to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli natural gas systems, are looking to take a crucial technical step ahead of construction.

Their YAFA Poseidon joint venture – spearheading the ambitious project, a 1,900-km pipeline stretch with an investment cost of between 6 and 7 billion euros – is gearing up for the launch of FEED (Front-End Engineering Design), environmental and detailed underwater research studies.

The European Commission has approved 34.5 million euros from the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), a funding instrument, for these studies. The CEF amount will cover half the cost of the aforementioned preliminary studies, which will push the plan ahead to a mature stage.

The pipeline project is planned to carry southeast Mediterranean natural gas, primarily deposits from Cyprus’ recently discovered “Aphrodite” gas field and the Israeli-controlled block “Leviathan”, along a route stretching from Israel to Europe.

An agreement between Greece, Cyprus, Israel and Italy, where the pipeline is planned to conclude, is still needed.

East Med plans have been at a standstill ever since the current Italian government announced it was stalling the project.

According to sources, the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli energy ministers will seek to restart procedures and also send out a message of encouragement to the Italian government when they meet at an Athens energy summit tomorrow. US Assistant Secretary Francis Fannon will also participate.

East Med, still at a theoretical stage, promises geostrategic might for Greece, Cyprus and Israel, as well as the USA, on southeast Mediterranean energy matters, especially against Turkey’s opposition to hydrocarbon exploration within Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The pipeline plan also promises to break Russia’s dominance of gas supply to the EU.

 

 

Greek-Cypriot-Israeli energy summit highlights US interest

Washington’s supportive interest in the energy partnership between Greece, Cyprus and Israel has grown, driven by the prospect of hydrocarbon exploration in the southeast Mediterranean region as well as the East Med natural gas pipeline, planned to carry Cypriot, Israeli and, possibly, Egyptian natural gas to the EU via Greece and Italy.

Highlighting this interest, an upcoming Athens energy summit, scheduled to take place on August 6 and 7, comes as a US initiative, energypress sources informed.

It will follow a meeting just days ago, at the East Med Gas Forum in Egypt, that brought together Greek energy minister Costis Hatzidakis with his Cypriot and Israeli peers, Giorgos Lakkotrypis and Yuval Steinitz, respectively. In addition, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis recently met with Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades.

US Assistant Secretary Francis Fannon, head of the Bureau of Energy Sources, will also take part in the Athens energy summit. Fannon is scheduled to meet with Hatzidakis, Greece’s energy minister, and the country’s deputy foreign minister Konstantinos Fragogiannis on the eve of the event.

The summit highlights the US-fostered partnership between Greece, Cyprus and Israel, united against escalating Turkish tension concerning offshore hydrocarbon exploration plans within Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The event’s participants are also expected to discuss the East Med pipeline. An agreement between the three countries and Italy remains pending. Last spring, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte claimed he sees no benefits for Italy in the project, effectively bringing the country’s effort in the matter to a standstill.

Washington openly supports this natural gas pipeline as it promises to establish an alternative supply route to Europe that would restrict Moscow’s energy dominance on the continent, through Gazprom.

Sideline efforts are being made to alter Italy’s negative stance, sources informed. A message could be projected to Rome through the imminent Athens event.

Crete grid link urgent, minister stresses at Cyprus meeting

Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading a PCI-status grid interconnection to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli systems, is prepared to collaborate with Greek authorities for the development of the project’s Greek segment, to connect Crete with Athens, as long as Greece accepts a related road map set by the European Commission last October, sources have informed.

Essentially, this can be interpreted as a Cypriot demand for Greece to accept the project’s technical specifications that were rejected by Greek power grid operator IPTO and the previous Syriza government.

Last year’s road map includes all the technical, financial and interconnection details concerning the project’s three segments, linking Athens with Crete, Crete with Cyprus and Cyprus with Israel. Absolute compatibility is essential.

Greek energy minister Costis Hatzidakis, who met yesterday with Euroasia Interconnector’s top officials, emphasized the importance being placed by the newly elected conservative New Democracy government on the project’s swift development.

Fast progress will serve as the main criterion when determining action to be taken, Hatzidakis stressed at the meeting, in Nicosia, adding that, if possible, the support of EU funds would be a bonus. PCI projects are entitled to EU support funds.

IPTO and Euroasia Interconnector have been at odds for control over the development of the project’s Crete-Athens segment. It is needed urgently to prevent a looming energy shortage on Crete as of next year, when old units still operating on the island will need to be withdrawn to align the country with EU environmental policies.

Continuation of energy strategy minister’s guide at Cairo forum

Recently appointed energy minister Costis Hatzidakis will formally commence work on promoting Greece’s international energy relations at his first meetings abroad, today and tomorrow, at the East Med Gas Forum in Cairo.

The minister, in recent speeches, has already made clear his interest in supporting a national strategy shaped to bolster the country’s energy security, elevate its geopolitical role and fuel economic growth.

Strategic partnerships with Cyprus, the USA, Israel and Egypt will play a pivotal role in this effort.

Greece, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Italy, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority will all be represented at the Cairo forum.

Hatzidakis, Greece’s energy minister, is also expected to discuss energy partnerships and regional security with US energy secretary Rick Perry, who is in the Egyptian capital as part of a tour of the east Mediterranean.

Development of the submarine East Med gas pipeline, a project promising security and stability for the wider region, is a leading priority  for Greece.

On a wider level, the minister can be expected to carry on supporting a national strategy pursued over the past decade to establish Greece as a pivotal energy player in the region and key problem solver of regional energy partnership issues.

As for other major energy infrastructure projects, the new Greek government will continue to provide national support for the swift completion of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), planned to transport Caspian natural gas to Europe, and the Greek-Bulgarian IGB gas grid interconnector. Other investment plans such as the Alexandroupoli FSRU and the Kavala underground gas storage facility will also keep receiving the support of Greece’s administration.

Energean signs deal with INGL for partial infrastructure transfer

Energean Oil and Gas, a London Premium Listed FTSE 250 and Tel Aviv Listed E&P company with operations offshore Israel, has signed a Detailed Agreement with Israel Natural Gas Lines (INGL) for the handover of the near shore and onshore part of the infrastructure that will deliver gas from the Karish and Tanin FPSO into the Israeli national gas transmission grid. An MOU with INGL was signed in December 2018, Energean has announced in a statement.

As consideration, INGL will pay Energean 369 million Israeli New Shekels, approximately US$102 million, which will be paid in accordance with milestones detailed in the agreement.

The agreement covers the onshore section of the Karish and Tanin infrastructure and the near shore section of pipeline extending to approximately 10km offshore. It is intended that the handover to INGL will become effective shortly after the delivery of first gas from the Karish field in 1Q 2021.

Following handover, INGL will be responsible for the operation and maintenance of this part of the infrastructure. Energean will not incur any charges or tariffs for use of this infrastructure.

Mathios Rigas, CEO of Energean Oil & Gas, commented:

“The agreement signed with INGL is an important milestone for the Karish and Tanin development, which will start flowing natural gas to the Israeli market in 1Q 2021. This demonstrates the commitment of the Israeli government to the project, and to long-term development of gas resources offshore Israel. The infrastructure being built by Energean will enable connection of future gas discoveries to the system, further contributing to Israel’s energy security and diversity of supply. We thank INGL management and professional team for the collaboration – we look forward to developing more projects together in the future”.

Greek PCI support for Eurosia conditional, minister suggests

Greece’s decision to proceed with the development of the Crete-Athens electricity grid interconnection as a national project through power grid operator IPTO’s special purpose vehicle Ariadne rather than as part of a wider Euroasia Interconnector project planned to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli grids has cast doubts over the future PCI status of Euroasia’s Crete-Cyprus and Cyprus-Israel segments.

Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading the wider project, will need the support of all parties involved if the Crete-Cyprus and Cyprus-Israel segments are to secure a place in the EU’s new PCI list, enabling favorable funding, when the updated list is published later this year, in autumn.

Though Greece’s energy ministry has yet to make its intentions clear, it faces pressure, especially from Cyprus, to support the continued PCI-status of the Crete-Cyprus and Cyprus-Israel segments as their development would end Cyprus’ electricity grid isolation.

Greece’s stance will most likely depend on Euroasia Interconnector’s moves and whether it will seek to obstruct the development of the Crete-Athens interconnection through legal procedures and other action.

Energy minister Giorgos Stathakis has suggested Greece’s support for the wider project’s PCI status would be conditional.

IPTO recently decided to remove the Crete-Athens segment from the wider Greece-Cyprus-Israel interconnection project as the operator was embroiled in a dispute with the Cypriot consortium over the local segment’s control.

Three-way summit to support ambitious East Med project

The leaders of Greece, Cyprus and Israel are expected to unite for a joint statement in support of the East Med natural gas pipeline’s development as well as the reinforcement of regional energy security at a summit in Jerusalem this Wednesday, where they will be joined by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The anticipated declaration by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his respective Cypriot and Israeli counterparts, Nicos Anastasiades and Benjamin Netanhyahu, will represent yet another step towards the development of East Med, promising a transportation route for regional natural gas to  EU markets.

Pompeo’s presence at the forthcoming three-way summit, combined with ExxonMobil’s recently declared intention to take part in a new round of Israeli tenders offering licenses, make clear Washington’s determination for a leading role in the Mediterranean.

Discoveries of major natural gas fields in the region and plans for EU-bound transportation routes have increased US interest.

However, many obstacles still lie ahead for the East Med pipeline. These include Italy’s step back as a result of objections expressed by Italy’s Five Star Movement, a member of the country’s far-right coalition. Italy’s environmental ministry has ordered a new environmental impact study for Italy’s Otranto seaside location, where East Med is planned to reach.

Greece, Cyprus and Israel now appear to be examining alternative East Med routes towards Europe, the most favorable option being North Macedonia.

Though Egypt expressed support for East Med last week, Cairo plans to utilize the country’s LNG terminals with the aim of exporting gas in liquefied form. This infrastructure would have an advantage over East Med.

East Med’s commercial feasibility is another concern. Quantities and customers still need to be assured.

 

 

East Med pipeline prospects bolstered by Egyptian support

Egypt’s constructive participation in talks for the development of the East Med natural gas pipeline, planned to carry Cypriot, Israeli and, possibly, Egyptian natural gas to the EU via Greece and Italy, has created favorable prospects for the realization of a project promising to play a pivotal role on the southeast Mediterranean energy map.

US support for the project and an effort by participating countries to ensure ExxonMobil’s involvement are also bolstering the East Med’s development prospects.

Last month, Egypt’s petroleum minister Tarek El-Molla had told Cyprus News Agency his country is not interested in participating in the East Med project with its Zohr natural gas deposit.

However, the Egyptian minister changed his tune yesterday at Ceraweek 2019, an international energy in Houston, Texas, noting Egypt will support the East Med project.

Quite clearly, Egypt is looking to establish yet another alternative supply route for its Zohr field, an enormous natural gas discovery, to major consumer markets of the west.

Prior to expressing support for East Med, El-Molla took part in a meeting with his Greek, Israeli and Cypriot counterparts – Giorgos Stathakis, Yuval Steinitz and Giorgos Lakkotrypis, respectively – and US energy under secretary Mark Menezes, at the Houston event.

All four officials confirmed their support for the East Med gas pipeline, according to a statement released by Greece’s energy ministry.

Stathakis, Greece’s energy minister, also held a separate meeting yesterday with ExxonMobil officials for talks on developments concerning the oil major’s hydrocarbon exploration interests at offshore blocks west and southwest of Crete – through a consortium established with Total and ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) – and the East Med project, energypress sources informed.

 

Greek-Cypriot-Israeli deal for East Med pipeline likely this month

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.