A new centrist government in Cyprus has fundamentally revised plans for bringing Mediterranean natural gas to Europe.
As relayed by Reuters, rather than the 2,000 km EastMed pipeline to continental Europe, the new government is proposing a much shorter one linking Cyprus to fields off the coast of Israel. Once in Cyprus, the gas could be converted to LNG and shipped to Europe.
While the project has been on the drawing boards for more than ten years, the original scheme presented significant technical challenges, giving project participants pause. "It's a very high, cost intensive project, but there are technical issues such as the depth of sea where the pipeline needed to be laid," the minister said.
Other than being shorter and faster to build, the alternate 300 km link to fields off Israel will provide Cyprus with access to cheap gas, and give Israel another export outlet in addition to Egypt.
The technical committees working on the project envision the pipeline potentially carrying hydrogen as well as natural gas. As hydrogen is a clean energy fuel the project would be eligible for future financial support from institutions such as the EIB or EBRD. Both have stopped financing fossil fuel projects.
"As soon as we develop the technologies and we have enough green power generation then the pipelines can be used for hydrogen transportation," Nikos Christosdoulides Papanastasiou, the Cypriot president said.
The eastern Mediterranean has yielded major gas discoveries in the past decade, mostly off Israel and Egypt, with interest rising since Russia's invasion of Ukraine led to constricted flows to Europe.