Cyprus Mail

‘No EastMed pipeline without Turkey’, ENI says

tungsten explorer

Cyprus on Friday issued a subdued response to comments from Italian energy giant ENI that for the construction of the controversial EastMed pipeline the participation of Turkey would be necessary.

Answering questions on the EastMed pipeline at an Italian parliament foreign affairs committee meeting, ENI CEO Claudio Desclazi said any agreement for the construction of the pipeline must include Turkey.

“It is inconceivable that Israel, Cyprus, and Greece can move forward on an agreement without the participation of Turkey,” he said.

The pipeline has become a controversial issue over recent years, with the US announcing back in January 2022 that it was abandoning its support for its construction due to the cost This was echoed again later in April that year, with undersecretary of state Victoria Nuland saying: “The idea there is to build a very long pipeline in very deep water over some 10 years and we believe that it is too expensive, not economically viable and will take too long.”

However, despite that the EU-approved project has still remained in the background as something that could continue. In September 2022, another Eni official Guido Brusco said the project could be completed by 2025.

The EastMed is a subsea pipeline designed to supply gas to Europe from the east Mediterranean via Israel, Greece and Cyprus. The project – worth €6 billion – has been in planning for several years.

Commenting further on Friday, Descalzi said: “There are disputes between Turkey and Cyprus that are difficult to remedy, furthermore Turkey has made an agreement with Libya to define a very vast platform that covers almost the entire EastMed, therefore not only Turkey but also Libya will have a say.”

In a reaction to the Cyprus Mail on the matter, Energy Minister George Papanastasiou said that not all people agree with the opinions expressed by Descalzi.  “Mr Descalzi has his own opinions, and I respect them,” he said.

Regarding reports on a deal earlier in the week, that Cyprus and Israel were working to create an interconnector to a natural gas liquefaction terminal set to be built in Cyprus, Papanastasiou said this was a “more realistic” approach to getting LNG to Europe along an EastMed corridor.

According to the report in Italian media, most of the country’s MPs called on the Italian government to provide all assistance to the EastMed construction talks, while Committee Vice President Paolo Formentini expressed hope that Israel would continue dialogue with Turkey.

The gas reserves of the eastern Mediterranean area are important, he said.

In further statements at the meeting in the Italian parliament, Descalzi said: “We need to understand how much they can be developed because the only area that has infrastructure maturity is Egypt. Israel is building now, while Cyprus is still planning. It is a potentially rich region, but the expression of this potential is not immediate.”

ENI is not financially involved in the EastMed project but has interests in the Cyprus gas fields.

The company has been present in the Cyprus exclusive economic zone since 2013 and hold interests in seven licences of the country’s EEZ in Blocks 2,3,6,8 and 9.

In comments about the deal between Cyprus and Israel on Monday, Head of the president’s press office Victoras Papadopoulos confirmed to CyBC that “interest was high” and said Papanastasiou would be travelling to Israel to discuss details of the agreement within the next few days.

He stressed that President Nikos Christodoulides was working “quietly and methodically” to solve the problem of high energy prices.

Nicosia’s goal, he added, is to upgrade the role of the Republic in an effort to wean Europe off Russian gas.

Last year, ENI announced it had made a significant gas discovery in the Cronos-1 well, located about 160 kilometres off the coast of Cyprus in block 6.

Block 6 is operated by Eni Cyprus holding 50 per cent stake, with TotalEnergies as a partner.

Preliminary estimates indicated about 2.5 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of gas in place, with significant additional upside that will be investigated by a further exploration well in the area.

The Cronos-1 well is the fourth exploration well drilled by Eni Cyprus and the second in Block 6, following the Calypso-1 gas discovery in 2018.

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