The EastMed pipeline for the transportation of natural gas from East Mediterranean gas fields to Italy and Central Europe through Greece, is expected to undergo its market test by the end of 2023 – an entire decade since it was first added to the EU’s Projects of Common Interest (PCI).
According to AMNA, the project will be included anew in EU’s updated PCI list to be announced in the fall.
Doubts about the EastMed pipeline’s feasibility, among other issues, have kept the project in suspension, but Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, which led to the EU’s decision to decrease dependency on Russian gas imports, has rekindled the interest in the ambitious deal.
An ambitious energy project
The governments of Greece, Cyprus, and Israel signed an interstate agreement in January 2020 to support the construction of the EastMed pipeline.
The Greek Energy Ministry said at the time that that the pipeline will provide Greece with a distinct geopolitical advantage compared to alternative solutions for the distribution of North Mediterranean natural gas (such as a pipeline crossing Turkey or LNG facilities in Egypt), for several reasons.
The 7-billion-dollar energy project consists of a 2,000-km natural gas pipeline, 1,400 km of which will lie underwater, and will be able to transport – at its final stage – 21 billion cubic meters of gas annually.
The pipeline will also allow for the transfer of green hydrogen, in which the Middle East is a leading producer.
Among the greatest challenges of the project, initially planned to be completed by 2025, are technical challenges such as the pipeline’s maximum sea depth of 3,000 meters.
Discussions about EastMed’s environmental repercussions has also caused scepticism, as the U.S. proposed that interconnected power cables to connect power generation infrastructure in regional markets could be a more environmental-friendly alternative.
Market interest in the EastMed pipeline under evaluation
EastMed’s owner company, IGI Poseidon, which belongs in equal shares to Greece’s public natural gas supplier Depa SA and Italy’s Edison SpA, confirmed to AMNA that the project’s market test is planned to take place by the end of 2023.
According to officials, “the test will evaluate market interest in the pipeline, while it will also examine the existence of enough natural gas quantities in the gas fields discovered so far and interest in having the gas transported to Europe.”
The same source suggested that the project’s Report on Environmental and Social Repercussions saw several benefits, such as the addition of new energy sources to remote corners of the EU, and an expansion of the South Corridor of Natural Gas within the group.
In addition, the creation of a new energy corridor would encourage the transition of Southeast Europe and the East Mediterranean to a viable and efficient energy transport network that also supports the construction of hydrogen-producing units, the report observes.