Discussions are going on in the background about a Turkey-Israel gas pipeline as an alternative to energy supplies from Russia to Europe, but “complex maneuvers” will be needed to reach an agreement, Reuters reported, citing government and industry sources. of the two countries.
The idea, according to Reuters, first appeared years ago: It is the construction of a submarine pipeline from Turkey to Israel's largest offshore gas field, known as “Leviathan”. The gas will pass to Turkey and then to southern European countries seeking independence from Russia.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week that gas co-operation was “one of the most important steps we can take together in bilateral relations” and told reporters he was ready to send top ministers to Israel to “resurrect” »The idea of the pipeline, around which there has been stagnation for years.
A senior Turkish official told Reuters that talks had continued since Israeli President Isaac Herzog visited Ankara earlier this month, and that “tangible decisions” could follow in the coming months on the proposed route. participating entities. However, industry officials were more discreet, saying that production constraints and geopolitical data could leave the plan in the air.
The Leviathan field already supplies gas to Israel, Jordan and Egypt. Its owners – Chevron and Israel's NewMed Energy and Ratio Oil – plan to increase production from 12 to 21 billion cubic meters a year. By comparison, the EU imported 155 billion cubic meters of Russian gas last year, covering about 40% of its consumption.
Much of the extra production will be liquefied and shipped to Europe or the Far East, according to NewMed. Its chief executive said last month that Turkey could become a destination as well, but must commit to building the pipeline.
Asked about talks with Turkey, Leviathan partners declined to comment. Israeli Energy Minister Karin Elharar told Ynet news on Sunday that not many issues had been raised, including financial ones: “It remains to be seen whether it is economically viable, which is not self-evident.”
Israel and Turkey seem to be seeking to leave behind a decade of bad diplomatic relations, usually due to Israeli-Palestinian issues. Energy cooperation could be the “key” to this, especially since the Russian invasion of Ukraine made Europe more determined to find alternative energy sources.
“There has been a recent rapprochement with Israel and we want its gas to pass through Turkey on its way to Europe,” said another Turkish official. “Israel sees this positively, some talks have taken place and there is a will to do so.” Turkey consumes about 50 billion cubic meters of gas a year and imports almost all of it, mostly through pipelines from Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan.
However, energy policy in the region is complex.
Citing Iraqi and Turkish officials, Reuters reported that a plan to transport Israeli-assisted gas from Iraqi Kurdistan to Turkey and Europe was part of the reason behind Iran's rocket attack on the Kurdish capital, Erbil, this month. .
“Turkey is of great interest, both for its domestic consumption and as a channel for countries in southern Europe,” said a senior Israeli gas official. However, as he noted, it is that there are already two proposed routes for additional supplies from Leviathan: Via existing LNG facilities in Egypt or a planned LNG floating facility.
“If Turkey reacts quickly then there may be a third alternative, “the official said.
The pipeline would be 500-550 km long and cost up to 1.5 billion to build, according to Israeli officials, making it “easier” than the proposed 6 billion-euro EastMed to connect. Israel with Cyprus, Greece and Italy. However, any submarine pipeline would have to cross the waters of either the Republic of Cyprus, which Ankara does not recognize, or Syria, with which Ankara has no diplomatic relations, and has supported the opposition fighting the government in Damascus. p>
That would complicate construction and financing if Turkey had a direct stake in the pipeline, says Gokhan Yardim, a Turkish gas industry consultant who has worked on evaluating potential gas for two decades. Two previous assessments were based on flows of 8-10 billion cubic meters of gas, and anything less may not be sustainable, he said.
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