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Gas and Israel: how Europe found another replacement for Russia

As reported this week by Reuters, the Israeli government approved the agreement with the European Union, which planned the construction of the offshore pipeline EastMed.

Numerous Russian publications for years parasitic on the description of a defeat of Russia broke out publications, the main leitmotif of which came down to the fact, that the Old world has found an alternative to Russian pipeline gas. However, the joy of their target audience might be short-lived for several reasons.

Wanting to please Washington, the European Commission, demonstrating the wonders of casuistry, EastMed assigned the status "project of common interest". This means that the pipeline will not be subject to the requirements and restrictions of the third energy package, the ones with whom so many problems experiencing the Russian "Gazprom". Here is the right to vote.

In order to accelerate the implementation of the project, from the European budget allocated $ 39 million for the completion of technical surveys. Looking ahead, we say that it was totally inadequate.

Not everything is simple from the technical side.

The pipeline length of nearly two thousand miles, with a capacity of ten billion cubic meters and the (provisional) value of seven billion dollars plan to build in seven years. However, his main difference from the Nord stream that in the area between Cyprus and Crete depths reach three thousand metres. The matter is further complicated by the fact that the bottom topography of the Mediterranean sea is quite complex and the area is considered seismically active. Modern technology, in theory, allow you to lay a pipeline route in similar conditions, but in practice, nothing like that has not been built.

But all the technical aspects are overshadowed by the complex tangle of political and other differences between the countries, through whose waters will be laying pipe.

First, not everything went smoothly with the Deposit of Leviathan. Three and a half trillion cubic meters of gas, in addition to Israel, expect another Egypt, Lebanon and Syria. Warring Damascus while not to dispute, but Lebanon for ten years, challenges the identity of the shelf. Cairo today fully satisfies domestic demand for gas fuel and forms a hub, where in the near future CNG is going to trade its own production.

Secondly, it was originally planned that EastMed will stretch from the Leviathan gas field via Cyprus and Crete to Greece, where the means of creating a hub from which blue fuel should go to Italy and Bulgaria. It is remarkable, but in six years of project development Italy was not present at any one meeting of the project participants. Moreover, a year ago the Prime Minister of Italy, Giuseppe Conti said bluntly that his country supports neither the overall project nor the construction of a 200-kilometer Interconnector Poseidon, by which gas from Greece needs to get to Italy.

Milan considers a more promising construction of the TRANS-Adriatic pipeline (TAP) and the purchase of gas from Azerbaijan transit through the same Greece and Albania.

The construction of interconnectors to Italy (Poseidon) and Bulgaria (IGB) is vested in the company IGI Poseidon, which is equally owned Italian Edison S. p.A. and Greek DEPA S. A. in relation to the Italian site of the last news date back to April this year, when IGI announced the readiness of the engineering survey, however, it requires additional 70 million euros. The money is still not allocated, but because of not being.

And, of course, to the realization of the EastMed gloomy mountain towers Turkey, which most of the project participants relationship, to put it mildly, far from ideal.

For example, near the coast of Cyprus is the Aphrodite field, where it is also planned to obtain natural gas for resale to Europe. In March 2018, a reconnaissance ship of the Italian company Eni has conducted research there, but was forced to roll them after the arrival of the squad of Turkish warships, in the form of an ultimatum demanded to leave the area of operations.

And another thing: we happened to mention the American interest in this project. Besides the fact that the relations between Turkey and the USA are very cool, Washington's foreign policy Ankara inflicts direct economic harm. And on 21 July the house of representatives of the United States Congress unanimously adopted a new sanctions package aimed against Russian gas pipeline "Nord stream — 2" and "Turkish stream". Actions clearly hostile, as they call into question Ankara's plans to become a major gas hub in southern and South-Eastern Europe. If EastMed and especially the Bulgarian connector IGB will be built, the transit branch of the Turkish stream via lüleburgaz loses its practical significance, and the budget — money.

And one more stroke. The exploration of the Leviathan field in 1999, the us company Noble Energy, she courted all the credit and incentives from the Israeli government after the discovery of huge reserves of hydrocarbons. Interior energy project on the basis of the offshore gas tel Aviv, has invested $ 6.3 billion, and Noble Energy have received preferential rights to participate in all related research.

That all changed at exactly the moment when Israel decided to enter the international market. Small Noble immediately bought the American oil giant Chevron. The transaction cost of five billion dollars and will be completed before the end of the year.

However, even if the EastMed project and will move from a dead point, until it's completed at least seven years, and the pipe layers "Gazprom" will begin work August 3rd to make it to Germany, the remaining 160 miles of the highway, and then only two threads Baltic Russia will supply 110 billion cubic meters of gas. Eleven times more than even in theory, could offer the Israeli-Greek tandem.