BAKU, Azerbaijan, May 12. Turkey, located at the crossroads of East and West, is rightfully considered a conductor between Europe and Asia. Turkey has the opportunity to once again use its territorial advantage when the problem of transporting energy resources is becoming more and more urgent, and the countries, through which energy routes pass, are gaining more and more influence on the world stage.
Despite the fact that Turkey does not have natural gas reserves for its export, it pursues a flexible policy in the energy sector. Russian natural gas via the Turkish Stream and Azerbaijan’s gas via the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) flows to Turkey and then gas is supplied to Europe via Turkey.
Turkey must find as many diverse allies as possible to become an important regional gas hub.
Israel may be one of these countries in the near future. Israel, with gas reserves sufficient for export, can use Turkey as the most cost-effective transit route. Turkey, in turn, is showing interest in Israeli gas.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in early February 2022, announced his readiness to facilitate the export of Israeli gas to Europe. A potential pipeline should stretch from Israel's Leviathan gas field to Turkey, and then to European countries.
The issue of Israeli gas supplies to Europe is particularly relevant against the backdrop of the freeze on the construction of the East Mediterranean gas pipeline (EastMed). Gas from Israeli and Cypriot natural gas fields along the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea was supposed to flow to Greece through this pipeline. The construction cost of the 1,900-kilometer EastMed pipeline was estimated at over seven billion euros, and the most difficult part of it was passing at a depth of more than 3,000 meters in a seismically active zone.
The US withdrew from the EastMed project in January 2022, declaring it economically unprofitable and construction of EastMed was frozen.
Much more profitable against this background seems to be the construction of a gas pipeline between Turkey and Israel, which is estimated at $1.5 billion. Turkey already has a ready infrastructure for further gas exports to Europe.
The pipeline can be built within four or five years in case of signing an agreement, as the Turkish president said.
Currently, Turkey is taking all necessary measures to become an important regional gas transportation hub.
Course set by the Turkish government, foresight using of the current geopolitical situation and Europe's growing need for diversification of energy resources, may contribute to the transformation of Turkey into an even larger gas hub in 2025-2030.
EastWestStream columnist: Alena Pavlenko
Follow the author on Twitter: @Pv_Alyona