Deal agreed for EastMed undersea gas pipeline to Europe

The race for offshore energy deposits in the southern Mediterranean has created tensions between Greece and Cyprus, on the one side, and rival Turkey. Ankara has raised the stakes with claims to areas under Greek control. (AFP)
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Updated 02 January 2020

Deal agreed for EastMed undersea gas pipeline to Europe

  • The 1,900 km EastMed pipeline has a budget of $6 billion

ATHENS: The leaders of Greece, Israel and Cyprus met in Athens on Thursday to sign a deal for an undersea pipeline that would carry gas from new offshore deposits in the southeastern Mediterranean to continental Europe.

The 1,900 km EastMed pipeline is intended to provide an alternative gas source for energy-hungry Europe, which is currently largely dependent on supplies from Russia and the Caucasus region.

As now designed, the pipeline would run from Israel’s Levantine Basin offshore gas reserves to Cyprus, Crete and the Greek mainland. An overland pipeline to northwestern Greece and another planned undersea pipeline would carry the gas to Italy.

The project, with a rough budget of $6 billion, is expected to satisfy about 10 percent of the EU’s natural gas needs. But it also is fraught with political and logistical complexities.

The race to claim offshore energy deposits in the southern Mediterranean has created new tensions between Greece and Cyprus, on the one side, and historic rival Turkey.

Ankara has raised the stakes with recent moves to explore waters controlled by the two EU member countries. Cyprus and Greece are particularly disturbed Turkey sent warship-escorted drill ships into waters where Cyprus has exclusive economic rights.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said the EastMed pipeline, while not aimed against Turkey, affirms that Greece and Cyprus hold sovereign rights to the waters they control.

Anastasiades, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were to meet in Athens to sign an agreement on building the pipeline.

Before departing for the Greek capital, Netanyahu said the three countries have established ”an alliance of great importance” that would bolster regional stability and turn Israel ”into an energy powerhouse.”

Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz has said the EastMed pipeline would take up to seven years to build and that its advantages include being less vulnerable to sabotage and not crossing many national borders to reach markets.

Anastasiades said in an New Year’s Day interview with Cyprus’ Phileleftheros newspaper that the construction agreement’s signing “sends messages in every direction.”

“Especially under current conditions, it demonstrates the strong political will of the countries involved, as well as the European Union, that they don’t accept Turkey’s unlawful actions,” Anastasiades said.

Cyprus is divided into a Greek Cypriot south, where the island nation’s internationally recognized government is located, and a breakaway Turkish Cypriot north backed by Turkey. The split followed a 1974 Turkish invasion after an aborted coup aiming to bring Cyprus under Greek rule.

Turkey is also laying claim to large tracts under Greek control in the Aegean Sea and off the Greek island of Crete.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that no project can proceed without his country’s consent following a maritime border agreement that Ankara signed with the Libya’s Tripoli-based government.

The Cypriot government has licensed Italian energy company Eni, France’s Total, ExxonMobil and Texas-based Noble Energy to carry out exploratory hydrocarbons drilling in the country’s offshore economic zone.


Big oil feels the heat on climate as industry leader promises: ‘We will be different’

Updated 22 January 2020

Big oil feels the heat on climate as industry leader promises: ‘We will be different’

  • Trump singles out ‘prophets of doom’ for attack
  • Greenpeace told the Davos gathering that the world’s largest banks, funds and insurance companies had invested $1.4 trillion in fossil fuel companies since the Paris climate deal

LONDON: Teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg slammed inaction over climate change as the global oil industry found itself under intense scrutiny on the opening day of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The teenage campaigner went head to head with US President Donald Trump, who dismissed climate “prophets of doom” in his speech.
She in turn shrugged off the US president’s pledge to join the economic forum’s initiative to plant 1 trillion trees to help capture carbon dioxide.
“Planting trees is good, of course, but it’s nowhere near enough,” Thunberg said. “It cannot replace mitigation. We need to start listening to the science and treat this crisis with the importance it deserves,” the 17-year-old said.
The 50th meeting of the World Economic Forum was dominated by the global threat posed by climate change and the carbon economy.
The environmental focus of Davos 2020 caps a year when carbon emissions from fossil fuels hit a record high, and the devastating effects of bushfires in Australia and other climate disasters dominated the news.
Oil company executives from the Gulf and elsewhere are in the spotlight at this year’s Davos meeting as they come under increased pressure to demonstrate how they are reducing their carbon footprint.
“We are not only fighting for our industry’s life but fighting for people to understand the things that we are doing,” said Vicki Hollub, CEO of Occidental, the US-based oil giant with extensive oil operations in the Gulf. “As an industry when we could be different — we will be different.”

‘Planting trees is good, but nowhere near enough,’ activist Greta Thunberg told Davos. (Shutterstock)

She said the company was getting close to being able to sequester significant volumes of CO2 in the US Permian Basin, the heartland of the American shale oil industry which is increasingly in competition with the conventional oil producers of the Arabian Gulf.
“The Permian Basin has the capacity to store 150 gigatons of CO2. That would be 28 years of emissions in the US. That’s the prize for us and that’s the opportunity. People say if you’re sequestering in an oil reservoir then you are producing more oil, but the reality is that it takes more CO2 to inject into a reservoir than the barrel of oil that it makes come out,” Hollub said.
The challenge Occidental and other oil companies face is to make investors understand what is happening in this area of carbon sequesteration, she added.
The investment community at Davos is also looking hard at the oil industry in the face of mounting investor concerns.
Greenpeace told the Davos gathering that the world’s largest banks, funds and insurance companies had invested $1.4 trillion in fossil fuel companies since the Paris climate deal. It accused some of these groups of failing to live up to the World Economic Forum goal of “improving the state of the world.”