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EastMed feasibility study not proceeding normally due to Turkey's harassment

29/06/2022 07:31

The commercial viability study of the EastMed pipeline is not proceeding normally as Turkey is "interfering with the Nautical Geo ship conducting environmental surveys," Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides told the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, which discussed recent developments on the EastMed pipeline and the geopolitical importance and external dimension of the EuroAsia Interconnector project, through which the electricity interconnection between Greece, Cyprus and Israel is taking place.

At the same time, he said that Cyprus' attitude "has not changed on the need to wait for environmental sustainability, because of the new development that has arisen from the war in Ukraine", adding that "we are looking for other solutions", such as the immediate solution for the extraction of natural gas from the fields of Israel, Egypt and Cyprus (confirmed Aphrodite field).

Kasoulides also said that Turkey has said with its "toxic rhetoric" that the new drilling rig it has acquired will remain in the Eastern Mediterranean and "we can certainly expect that when it is ready to come to harass either by drilling in what it considers its own continental shelf - the 4 blocks, 5, 6 - or to proceed to drill in the south of the Republic of Cyprus within the plots licensed to Eni and Total, in particular."

"This will be a much worse development for Turkey," he stressed.

He also said that it has been said that the Poseidon company, which is part of the Italian company Edison and has recently been French-owned and Italian-managed, wants to change the route of the EastMed pipeline so that it "can go over the border of the EEZ of Egypt and the Republic of Cyprus and proceed to Crete, bypassing the areas within Turkey's reach to harass."

"The Cypriot government has not given its consent to the change of route of the pipeline," he said, adding that "so far no investor has shown interest" in the project and "this is a bad development in terms of viability."

Noting that investment projects should be divided into immediate, medium or long-term solutions, Kasoulides said the EastMed pipeline "cannot be placed in the category of immediate solutions."

The Foreign Minister said that in relation to other Cyprus' fields that Glafkos is not ready yet, while the size of the Kalypso field, where the first drilling has been completed, has not been finally determined.

Regarding the Kronos field, Kasoulides said that Italian Eni is preparing for the first drilling and if it has a positive outcome then a second one will follow for confirmation purposes.

He added that if the pipeline is not viable, none of the three states can bear the cost because it would exceed their budgets.

He also said that there is also a way of transporting the gas by tankers on board existing infrastructure facilities located mainly in Egypt, adding that "we are looking at various other alternative solutions" in case the pipeline proves not be viable.

Referring to the Ishai field in Israel's EEZ, which borders the Cypriot Aphrodite field, Kasoulides said that the two Governments reached an agreement to instruct the companies managing the two deposits to find a settlement and if they fail to do so within a certain period of time, the matter will be referred to arbitration.

Kasoulides also said the Cypriot government is planning a high-level meeting on the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) on 14 October 2022 with the participation of the European Commissioner for Energy, adding that the meeting coincides with the ceremony for the onshore station from which EuroAsia's electricity supply will start going to Egypt.

Furthermore, he referred to Turkey's efforts to convince Israel to have a pipeline going through the Cypriot EEZ into Turkey, adding that Israel's Foreign Minister told him that Israel has no such plans. 

Moreover, Kasoulides said that the electrical interconnection is another environmentally friendly solution "because it answers the philosophy that you use natural gas that exists in the region to produce electricity."

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Ankara sent on several occasions its seismic research vessel ‘Barbaros’ to Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), following the Republic of Cyprus’ decision, in 2011, to start exploratory offshore drilling. Among other actions, after May 2019, two Turkish drill ships, “Fatih” and “Yavuz”, conducted unauthorised hydrocarbon drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, at times in areas licensed by Cyprus to international energy companies.