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Israel, Egypt and EU sign gas deal

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TEL AVIV — Israel, Egypt and the European Union signed a trilateral natural gas deal in Cairo on Wednesday, as Europe scrambles to cobble together an energy strategy to replace the Russian supplies it has relied on for decades. decades.

The deal, which has been ongoing since March, will allow Israel to streamline and increase the export of its natural gas through already existing pipelines to Egyptian ports, where it can be pressurized and liquefied and then transported to Egypt. Europe.

“This will contribute to our energy security. And we are building infrastructure suitable for renewable energy – the energy of the future”, Ursula von der LeyenPresident of the European Commission, tweeted Wednesday from Cairo with a photo of the signature.

In recent weeks, Israel had promised to ramp up gas production as demand grew and prices soared. It is seeking, in collaboration with other Middle Eastern countries, to sell to Europe, previously the biggest customer of Russian energy.

Israel, once energy-dependent, is the new big gas producer

“With the start of this war and Russia’s attempt to blackmail us through energy, by deliberately cutting off the energy supply, we have decided to cut and get rid of the dependence on Russian fossil fuels , and to move away from Russia and diversify into reputable suppliers,” von der Leyen said at a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem on Tuesday evening, following a two-day visit to Israel and the West Bank. “This is an exceptional step that takes our energy cooperation to a new level.”

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi also met with Bennett on Tuesday to discuss energy cooperation. Claudio Descalzi, the boss of Italian oil giant Eni, said last month that Italy aimed to be fully independent of Russian gas by the winter of 2024-2025. On Wednesday, Eni said Russian state-owned Gazprom had cut its gas supply to Italy by 15%. Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Italy has signed agreements with several African energy-exporting countries, including Egypt.

For Israel, the sudden energy shortage in Europe is an opportunity to get involved in a global market that has become exponentially lucrative in recent months.

“This is a great moment in which little Israel becomes an important player,” Israel’s Energy Minister Karin Elharrar said in a statement on Wednesday.

Experts say Israel’s supply, extracted from three Mediterranean offshore gas fields, will fall far short of Russian capacity. Israel produces around 12 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year, although industry analysts say at least double that amount exists in untapped reserves. In 2021, the European Union imported 155 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Russia, which represents around 45% of EU gas imports.

But Alex Coman, an energy expert at Tel Aviv University, said Israel’s contribution is becoming increasingly important as the war in Ukraine pushes Europe into a “fragmented strategy”, in which it will buy smaller amounts of energy to a number of different countries.

“Beyond the war in Ukraine, Europe is so traumatized by Russian brutality” that it has moved towards a general restructuring of its energy system, “to avoid being dependent on a single source of energy. energy,” he said.

In May, London-based exploration and production company Energean announced that it had made a new commercial gas discovery of around 8 billion cubic meters off the coast of Israel. The company’s current project involves some 100 billion cubic meters of reserves and is expected to be commissioned in September.

Energean CEO Mathios Rigas said more pipelines were still needed to fully exploit eastern Mediterranean offshore supplies and that although “Europe needs gas today, there is no magic solutions”.

Beyond infrastructure, he said, the industry faces both issues “below the surface – the rocks, the geology – and on the surface, disputes”, in a region that has been marked by conflict for decades.

Those issues surfaced this month when Lebanon protested the arrival of one of Energean’s floating platforms and claimed the gas fields in question were in its territorial waters. Israel said the area was indeed within its exclusive economic zone. Lebanon is expected to drop the request after a meeting in Beirut this week with US senior energy security adviser Amos Hochstein, according to officials who spoke to Reuters news agency.

Wednesday’s export deal comes a day after Russia’s state-owned Gazprom said it would cut capacity on the Nord Stream gas pipeline – the biggest gas supply link to the EU – by 40% following repair delays, raising already high natural gas prices by 15%. .

The EU has worked with the United States and other allies to impose sanctions on Moscow, but several member countries remain heavily dependent on Russian oil and gas.


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Post expires at 9:11pm on Monday June 27th, 2022

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