Israeli-Turkish thaw boosts gas pipeline projects
The deepening of the regional alliance that has formed since the signing of the Abraham Accords, which has broken many conventions, makes Israel a major player that can even take advantage of its close ties with the United States. and other countries to mediate and promote cooperation. The very participation of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan earlier this week demonstrated this. Among the priority issues on the meeting’s agenda was natural gas.
Meanwhile, Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s visit to Turkey two weeks ago and meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan represented a new peak in warming relations between the countries. The improvement in relations stems mainly from Turkey’s problematic financial situation, which prompted Ankara to renew dialogue with the United States and the Gulf States as well as with Israel.
Next month, a reciprocal Turkish government delegation is due to visit Israel to discuss issues in several economic areas, primarily natural gas. The delegation is expected to include Turkish Energy Minister Faith Donmez, who recently met her Israeli counterpart Karine Elharrar.
The two major questions on the agenda are how to connect the great Turkish gas pipeline to Europe to the gas reserves of Israel and the rest of the region, including Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, so that it becomes an alternative source of supply for Europe, which wants to reduce its dependence on Russian gas.
The warming of relations between Israel and Turkey comes after the EU allocated a large budget to examine the viability of laying the ‘EastMed’ under water at the pipeline to transport gas to Europe via Greece and the ‘Italy. But it was recently realized that the cost would be too high, especially since US President Joe Biden has canceled US support for the company. Yet Europe needs to replace Russian gas more than ever.
The liquefied gas transported from the Egyptian and UAE installations represents an intermediate solution, but the capacity of the tankers to transport the gas is limited. The idea promoted by Israel and Turkey with the support of the United Arab Emirates is the use of the Turkish gas infrastructure, which reaches Europe and can transport large quantities of gas. A major obstacle to this plan is the dispute between Turkey and Greece and Cyprus over the borders of their territorial waters in the northeast Mediterranean.
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“Globes” understands that during these talks, which are taking place at the highest level, the United Arab Emirates and Israel are trying to find solutions that would allow energy exploration and development off Greece, Cyprus and Turkey in the disputed waters, and to connect them to the Turkish infrastructure. The issue was raised by President Herzog during his visit to Greece, Cyprus and Turkey as well as during the meeting between Bennett, Al-Sisi and Bin Zayed in Sharm El Sheikh.
The Emiratis are very involved in the issue of Mediterranean offshore gas, among others through Mubadala Petroleum, which bought Delek Drilling’s stakes in the Tamar field for 1 billion dollars, and are eager to join the efforts of exploration and development of new fields, as well as finding a shortcut to bring its own gas to Europe.
Egypt has huge gas liquefaction facilities off its Mediterranean coast and has its own large gas fields in the Mediterranean. An Egyptian source said that Cairo does not rule out proposals that have been raised in connection with the energy development of the whole region.
Israel is looking for a plan and an arrangement that would connect its gas fields to Turkey. One possibility could see him passing through Jordan and Syria to Turkey.
An Israeli source involved in the case said that the strategic changes created by the Abraham Accords and their potential are beginning to be felt through regional dialogue in which Israel plays a central role.
Published by Globes, Israel business news – en.globes.co.il – on March 24, 2022.
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