Baku, Azerbaijan, Jan.26
By Leman Zeynalova – Trend:
Israel appears to have enough gas to sell to Europe, but there are problems with the route, Bruce Pannier, US expert on Central Asia and energy issues, told Trend Jan.26.
“The Leviathan field, the biggest of several Israeli offshore fields, is estimated to contain at least 470 billion cubic meters of gas and is due to start production by 2019, and Israel already supplies about half of its electricity needs from the much smaller Tamar field. So, Israel will have extra gas to sell,” said the expert.
Nevertheless, Israel’s problem selling gas to Europe would be lack of a clear route, Pannier believes.
“The distance from Israel’s offshore fields to the Turkish mainland, and then on to Europe, would be an obstacle to building an underwater pipeline, not to mention the legal problems that could arise from other Mediterranean countries in the area – Lebanon, Syria, and Cyprus -- that might be concerned about environmental consequences,” he said.
Moreover, the expert pointed out that a land pipeline to Europe would have to cross Syria at some point and given the current situation in Syria, such a project does not seem possible at this time.
Israel might be able to sell liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe, but that would require time to construct the necessary facilities to liquefy the gas and build the port terminal facilities to load LNG, said Pannier.
The expert believes that a better bet for Israeli gas exports in the near future would be to Egypt and Jordan.
“Europe, like so many regions in the world, is anxious to diversify its sources for gas imports and would probably be glad for an opportunity to include Israeli gas. But as I mentioned, there is no good way to get Israeli gas to Europe at the moment, excepting the LNG option,” he added.
Earlier, senior officials from Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Israel agreed to advance talks on a pipeline from Israel to Europe after an EU-sponsored study showed the project would be very feasible.
The study showed the pipeline, which would traverse Cyprus and Greece before reaching Italy, would cost about 5 billion euros ($5.5 billion).
A pipeline to Greece would have to go deep underwater and would be the world’s longest undersea connection, said previously Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz.
He said that the idea of exporting gas to Turkey, with which Israel has held talks about a pipeline, is still on the table.
“This would not be instead of Turkey,” he said. “I’ve always said we need at least two pipelines.”
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