Europe, Israel Back Longest Undersea Natural Gas Pipeline

Governments set 2025 deadline for carrying gas from Israel to Continent. Israel Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz: 'We will try to shorten the timetable.'

An Israeli gas platform is seen in the Mediterranean Sea, in 2014.
AMIR COHEN/REUTERS

European and Israeli governments gave their support on Monday to moving forward with a Mediterranean pipeline project to carry natural gas from Israel to Europe, setting a target date of 2025 for completion. This would be the world's longest undersea gas pipeline.

The planned 2,00-kilometer (1,248-mile) pipeline aims to link gas fields off the coasts of Israel and Cyprus with Greece and possibly Italy, at a cost of up to 6 billion euros ($6.4 billion).

“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,” said European Climate and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete.

After a meeting in Tel Aviv between energy ministers from Israel, Cyprus, Greece and Italy, Canete told reporters he believed the project would “meet all relevant requirements” to make financial commitment possible.

Yuval Steinitz, Israel's national infrastructure, energy and water minister, said the pipeline could be completed in 2025. “But we will try to speed up and to shorten the timetable,” he said.

Israel has discovered more than 900 billion cubic meters of gas offshore, with some studies pointing to another 2,200 BCM waiting to be tapped. Along with the European market, it is exploring options to export to Turkey, Egypt and Jordan.

Cyprus’ Aphrodite natural gas field holds an additional 128 BCM, and Cypriot waters are thought to hold more reserves.

A feasibility study has been completed and the next few years would focus on “proper development activities,” with a final investment decision expected by 2020, said Elio Ruggeri, CEO of IGI Poseidon, the project owners. IGI Poseidon is a joint venture between Greece’s DEPA and Italian energy group Edison.

“Our estimate today is for the pipeline to cost 5 billion euros to [reach] the Greek system and 6 billion euros to [reach] the Italian system,” said Ruggeri.

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