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Turkey and Israel want to build a gas pipeline that would eliminate Europe’s dependence on Russian gas


The idea, launched a few years ago, aims to build a submarine pipeline from Turkey to the Leviathan, Israel’s largest offshore gas field. Natural gas would thus reach Turkey and from there to the southern European states, which are interested in diversifying their sources of supply.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said last week that gas co-operation was “one of the most important steps we can take together for bilateral ties,” adding that he is ready to send ministers to Israel to relaunch the pipeline project.

A senior Turkish official told Reuters that talks had continued after the recent visit of Israeli President Isaac Herzog to Ankara, and that a series of “concrete decisions” could be announced in the coming months on the proposed route and the entities. who will participate in this project, writes Reuters.

However, energy industry officials are more cautious, stressing that production constraints and geopolitical factors could block this project.

The Leviathan gas field is already supplying Israel, Jordan and Egypt. The field’s operators, the US group Chevron and the Israeli companies NewMed Energy and Ratio Oil, plan to increase production from 12 to 21 billion cubic meters per year. In comparison, last year, the European Union imported 155 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Russia, a quantity that covered almost 40% of its consumption.

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Israeli Energy Minister Karine Elharrar recently said that much remains to be discussed, including financial issues.

“It has to be economically feasible, which is not obvious,” said Karine Elharrar.

Turkey consumes about 50 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year and imports almost the entire amount, mainly through pipelines from Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan. In addition, Turkey is well placed to become a gas hub in the region.

“Turkey is very interesting, both for its domestic consumption and as a channel to the countries of southern Europe,” said an Israeli gas industry official.

According to him, the problem is that there are already two proposed routes for additional deliveries from the Leviathan field: to the existing liquefied gas facilities in Egypt or to a floating liquefied gas facility to be built.

“If Turkey responds quickly, then it could become the third alternative,” he said.

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The submarine pipeline would be 500-550 kilometers long, and its construction would cost 1.5 billion euros, Israeli officials say, a much more bearable cost than the six billion euros for the EastMed pipeline, which would follow to connect Israel and Cyprus, Greece and Italy.

However, a submarine pipeline should pass through the territorial waters of Cyprus, which Ankara does not recognize, or through those of Syria, with which Ankara has no diplomatic relations and has supported rebels fighting the Damascus government. This would complicate both construction and financing if Turkey wants to have a direct stake in the pipeline, says Gokhan Yardim, a consultant in Turkey’s gas industry who has been working to assess possible gas pipelines for the past two decades.

According to him, previous assessments were based on annual deliveries of 8 and 10 billion cubic meters, a smaller amount making the project unfeasible.

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