Cyprus, Israel, Greece and Italy are expected on Tuesday to sign a memorandum of understanding for laying an underwater gas pipeline from the Eastern Mediterranean region to Italy which will allow the transportation of Israeli and Cypriot gas reserves to mainland Europe.
The quadrilateral meeting in Nicosia where the world’s longest underwater pipeline will be discussed will last four days.
Michalis Sophocleous, head of the President’s office, on Monday explained it still needs to be discussed further if the project is technically and economically possible.
“It will cost a lot of money,” he said, “but it is important for the region and for Cyprus.”
The energy summit in Cyprus on Tuesday will be attended by Israel’s energy minister Yuval Steinitz and his counterparts from Cyprus, Greece, Italy and the EU.
Yuval Steinitz said the concerned parties have set a target of 2025 for completion of the 2000 kilometre-long project.
It will be paid for at least in part with money from the EU under the Connecting European Facility programme.
The planned pipeline will connect Israel’s Leviathan gas field and via Cyprus’s Aphrodite gas field, Crete, mainland Greece and Italy. The initial estimate of the cost of the pipeline, which will be able to convey 12-16 billion cubic meters (BCM) of gas annually, is $5.7 billion.
According to Globes, if further large fields are found in Israel or Cyprus, a double pipeline conveying 30 BCM annually could be laid.
As Globes points out, such a project will involve complex engineering to lay the pipe at a depth of 3.3 kilometers underwater in the deepest sections between Greece and Cyprus. Any subsequent damage will be extremely difficult to repair.
The high cost of the gas at the reception point in Europe remains problematic for the East Med pipeline. The cost is estimated to be at least $7 per heating unit, $2.50 more than the price of Russian gas.
The project could become more profitable if Israel and Cyprus find additional major gas fields, thus lowering costs.
The last quadrilateral energy summit hosting Cyprus, Israel, Greece and Italy was held in Israel in April when the sides signed a declaration to move forward with the project.
At the time, Elio Ruggeri, CEO of the IGI Poseidon joint venture promoting the East Med option, said a final investment decision for the project was expected by 2020.