The Biden administration has made it clear to Israel that it will not support the proposed EastMed natural-gas pipeline from Israel to Europe by way of Greece and Cyprus, a reversal of the Trump administration’s position.
The pipeline is expected to transport 10 billion cubic meters of gas a year, later doubling that supply.
“State Department officials conveyed the new position to the Foreign Ministry, a diplomatic source in Jerusalem confirmed Tuesday,” The Jerusalem Post reported.
The Biden administration told the Greek government about its position in a “non-paper.” A Greek government source informed Reuters, “The American side expressed to the Greek side reservations as to the rationale of the EastMed pipeline, [and] raised issues of its economic viability and environmental [issues] … The Greek side highlighted that this project has been declared a ‘special project’ by the European Union, and any decision on its viability will logically have an economic impact.”
The project is supposed to be completed by 2025.
Reuters reported in July 2020, “The Israeli government on Sunday approved an agreement with European countries for the construction of a subsea pipeline that would supply Europe with natural gas from the eastern Mediterranean. … A land and sea survey is currently underway to determine the route of the 1,900-km (1,200-mile) pipeline. The European Union and the pipeline’s owner IGI Poseidon, a joint venture between Greek gas firm DEPA and Italian energy group Edison, have each invested 35 million euros in the planning.”
Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz stated at the time, “The government approval of the framework agreement for laying the Israel-Europe natural gas pipeline is another historic milestone for making Israel an energy exporter.”
The U.S. Embassy in Greece stated that the Biden administration does “remain committed to physically interconnecting East Med energy to Europe. We are shifting our focus to electricity interconnectors that can support both gas and renewable energy sources.”
In a documentary opposing the EastMed pipeline titled The Pipe Dream, State Department Senior Advisor for Energy Security Amos Hochstein stated, “Why would we build a fossil fuel pipeline between the EastMed and Europe when our entire policy is to support new technology… and new investments in going green and in going clean?” He continued, “By the time this pipeline is built we will have spent billions of taxpayer money on something that is obsolete – not only obsolete but against our collective interest between the U.S. and Europe.”
Hochstein said loftily, “This project probably will not happen because it’s too complicated, too expensive and too late in the arc of history.”
Last October, Reuters noted, “Israel is considering the construction of a new onshore pipeline to Egypt in order to quickly boost natural gas exports to its neighbour in the wake of the recent tightening of global supplies, the Israeli energy ministry said. The pipeline, which will connect the Israeli and Egyptian natural gas grids through the north of the Sinai peninsula, is estimated to cost around $200 million and could be operational within 24 months, industry sources who are close to the discussions told Reuters.”