EU-ISRAEL ENERGY COOPERATION

EU-ISRAEL ENERGY COOPERATION

In a meeting at Ben-Gurion University, the European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen confirmed that Russia is trying to blackmail the European Union by using energy as a weapon of war. Therefore, the European Union is determined to dispense with the Russian energy. Von der Leyen statement came after meetings she held with the Israeli Minister of Energy and Foreign Minister.

Hours after the European Commission President's statement in Israel, Russia reduced already agreed-upon deliveries through Nord Stream by 40%.

The Israeli Minister of Energy, Karin Elharar had confirmed last April that Israel was preparing to supply Europe with energy in light of its current crisis. This statement came after Israel had formed special working groups to discuss short and long-term possibilities of supplying energy to EU countries. This indicates Israel seriousness in bridging the energy gap that affects the bloc.

It is expected that the options available to Israel for delivering gas will be complicated, as the interests of different parties overlap, and this may disrupt these supplies. These options are:

1- Transporting Israeli gas to Egypt and then shipping it to European countries

This option seems to be the best time and cost wise, especially when the already existed maritime infrastructure is taken into consideration. Egypt transfers quantities of gas to Spain, France and Belgium in small quantities by sea.

However, the promotion of Israeli gas access to Egypt through the existing pipeline between Israel and Egypt, which passes through the Sinai desert, faces a security challenge represented in the possibility of targeting its parts, given that this very line has long been subjected to attacks that the Egyptian government could not stop.

2- The option of transporting Israeli gas to Turkey

Last April witnessed high-level reciprocal visits between Israel and Ankara. It is believed that extending an energy pipeline from Israel to Turkey and then to Europe was one of the topics discussed in those visits.

This option helps to achieve the Turkish goal of consolidating its position as a global center for energy transferring. However, this option requires several years and it may be faced with two challenges. The first one is that both Cyprus and Greece’ rejection might reject establishing such a project. The other challenge may come from Russia that would seek to disrupt this project through its presence in the warm waters, as it has a military base on the Syrian shores.

3- To transport Israeli gas through Cyprus and Greece

In 2020, Cyprus and Greece signed Mid-East gas pipeline, with a length of 1872 km. Russia considered this project a geostrategic threat against it at the time.

The project also ignited Ankara's anger after it was excluded from it. This makes it is possible for Russia and Turkey to cooperate in the Mediterranean to obstruct this project if the supply is actually started.

In all cases, Israel will need to increase exploration and expand gas production from its fields in the Mediterranean. In this context, it is noted that Amos Hochstein, the American mediator between Israel and Lebanon, arrived in Beirut at the same time as the European Commission President's visit to Israel, in an attempt to ease the tension on the Mediterranean coast by reactivating the negotiations again.