A plan to ship Israeli and Cypriot gas to Europe will be presented to energy companies on May 29, Cyprus’s energy minister said on Tuesday.
The plan, an alternative to the more ambitious $6.8 billion EastMed pipeline project, which stalled after Washington withdrew support in 2022, involves the construction of a pipeline linking Israeli and Cypriot gas fields, as well as a gas liquefaction plant in Cyprus. The process of gas liquefaction involves cooling gas below its boiling point so it can be safely stored and transported.
Offshore natural gas from both countries would be liquified for transport before being exported by ship to Europe.
Two large international oil and gas companies have so far expressed interest in the initiative, Minister Giorgos Papanastasiou told AP. The plan will be pitched to each company individually, as getting them on board is key to getting the project off the ground, he added.
Speaking to reporters on May 15, the Cypriot energy minister said that a liquefaction plant could take about 2.5 years to build, while a pipeline to Israel’s gas fields would take some 18 months, according to Reuters.
“It will be a corridor, that will exist. Instead of a pipeline [directly to Europe] it will be a connection between Israel and Europe, which can be done through Cyprus,” said Papanastasiou.
“It could be a virtual pipeline which would link through Cyprus to the rest of Europe in liquefied form,” he added.
On May 11, Papanastasiou accompanied Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides on a visit to Jerusalem for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Papanastasiou intends to return to Israel for further discussions.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Europe has been moving to diversify its energy sources. Turkey has also been courting Israel to collaborate on energy ventures.
Israel has separate agreements to sell natural gas to Europe via Egyptian liquefaction facilities.