Israel signs preliminary agreement with Mediterranean neighbours to export gas to Europe

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Israel has signalled its intent on exporting natural gas to Europe by signing a preliminary agreement with its Mediterranean neighbours.

At a ceremony in Tel Aviv yesterday, Israel signed a preliminary agreement with Cyprus, Greece and Italy to export gas across the Mediterranean via a planned 1,248-mile pipeline that would be the world’s longest undersea gas pipeline.

Speaking at the ceremony, Minister of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources Yuval Steinitz said that an initial study showed the project was technologically and financially feasible and could be completed by 2025, “but we will try to speed up and to shorten the timetable”.

Steinitz added: “We are here to start a wonderful project of exporting natural gas from the eastern Mediterranean, mainly Israel and Cyprus, to Western Europe.”

At the ceremony were Greece’s Energy Minister Giorgos Stathakis, who descried Israel as “the most reliable export option,” as well as Carlo Calenda, Italy’s Economic Development Minister, who said the pipeline project was “a top priority for our country”.

Also in attendance was the EU Climate and Energy Commissioner, Miguel Arias Canete, who said: “This is an ambitious project, which as the Commission, we clearly support, as it will have a high value in terms of security of supply and diversification targets”

He added: “We highly value gas supply from the region… that can make a valuable contribution to our strategy to diversify our sources and suppliers.”

The energy ministers have agreed to meet in Cyprus in six months to further advance the project.

Israel has discovered more than 900bn cubic meters of gas offshore in the last decade due to an increase in exploration technology and investment. As a result, Israel has become a gas exporter. In 2016 a deal was finalised worth approximately £7.7bn over 15 years to supply Jordan with Israeli natural gas. Israel is also discussing a potential undersea gas pipeline with Turkey and has signed deals to export gas to Egypt and the Palestinian Authority.