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Wednesday, 30 March 2022

A gas pipeline running between Israel and Turkey is being discussed

There’s a new project to transport East Med gas to Europe: Turkey and Israel are in discussions to build a gas pipeline running between their two countries, a project that is being seen as part of the solution to the energy crisis in Europe, which is trying to reduce its reliance on Russian hydrocarbons. The idea has apparently existed for several years but in recent weeks conversations between the two countries have picked up, with a senior Turkish official telling Reuters that “concrete decisions” could be taken in the coming months.

The plan: A subsea pipeline would link Israel’s largest offshore gas field, Leviathan, to Turkey. This would allow Israel to ship its gas directly to Southern Europe.

Needless to say, this would pose competition to Egypt Gas Hub™: In recent years Egypt has positioned itself as the premier regional gas hub capable of transporting natural gas from the region to Europe. Currently there are no pipelines linking Europe with the Middle East, leaving Egypt’s LNG terminals as the only way of shipping gas across the Med.

The challenge for Egypt: The current capacity of Egypt’s LNG infrastructure is not enough to turn the country into a major alternative gas supplier to the continent. The Idku and Damietta LNG plants have been running at maximum capacity in recent months, leaving Egypt searching for solutions on how to further scale up its exports.

This is why Egypt and Greece are looking at a pipeline of their own: The two countries are considering establishing a new subsea pipeline that would allow Egypt to export gas directly to Europe.

The Turkey-Israel pipeline has a major thing going for it: Cost. At EUR 1.5 bn, the pipeline would be significantly cheaper than the EUR 6 bn Israel-Italy line that was effectively scrapped earlier this year.

But there are a whole host of other things standing in the way, industry figures told Reuters. These range from complex regional geopolitics and competing territorial claims to questions about whether Israel can export enough gas to make it viable.

Gas from Egypt + Israel remains is far less than what Russia sells Europe: Israel is planning to increase production at Leviathan to 24 bn cubic meters (bcm) a year. Compare that to Russia, which last year sent 155 bcm of natural gas to Europe.

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