Israel wants to help Europe become less dependent on Russian gas. The country is considering bringing additional gas to Europe through Egypt’s LNG terminal. There is also an agreement to lay a pipeline between Israel and Cyprus, Greece and Italy and a pipeline to Turkey is being considered.
The European Commission has announced that it wants to reduce Russian gas imports by two-thirds by the end of the year. Israel could also play a role in this. The country has a large gas field called Leviathan and wants to increase gas production here to 21 billion cubic meters per year. For comparison, Europe imported 155 billion cubic meters of gas from Russia last year.
In order to be able to help as quickly as possible, Israel now wants to try to send more LNG to Europe via Egypt. This could be possible from September when Israel puts two new small gas fields near the Leviathan field into operation.
In the long term, Israel also wants to build pipelines to Europe. Last week, Israeli Foreign minister Yair Lapid was in Athens for talks with his Greek and Cypriot counterparts on the energy market. In 2020, Israel gave its approval for the Eastmid pipeline, which should start supplying gas to Greece, Italy and Cyprus, but this pipeline is not expected to be commissioned until 2025.
There are also talks between Israel and Turkey about a possible pipeline connection. The war in Ukraine seems to have improved the difficult relationship between the two countries. Three weeks ago, Turkish president Erdogan called cooperation on gas supplies during a visit by Israeli president Herzog ” one of the most important steps we can take for bilateral ties.” The Turkish Energy minister will travel to Israel in the coming weeks for talks. For a long time, the countries were in disarray because of different opinions on the solution to the Palestinian issue.
Both Israel and Turkey also play a prominent role in the war in Ukraine. Ukrainian president Zelensky has repeatedly called on Israel to mediate. The country maintains good relations with Russia and Ukraine. Turkey, which borders both countries, has presented itself as a mediator over the past month and has already facilitated talks between the fighting parties on several occasions.
The war in Ukraine also seems to have eased relations between Turkey and Greece. In recent years, tensions have been high between the countries. For example, it almost came to a conflict in 2020 when Turkey sent a drilling ship up the Mediterranean towards an area where large gas reserves could be found, but which was also claimed by Greece.
In early March, Turkish president Erdogan and Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis agreed in a meeting to improve relations.