European Commission President: Europe Seeking to Buy Gas from Israel

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A view from Zikhron Ya‘aqov on The Leviathan gas platform, 10km offshore Israel. Zikhron Ya‘aqov, Oct 25, 2020. Photo by Eitan Elhadez-Barak/TPS
By Aryeh Savir/TPS • 14 June, 2022

Jerusalem, 14 June, 2022 (TPS) — Europe is seeking to end its dependency on natural gas flowing from Russia and instead wants to purchase it from Israel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated.

Speaking after receiving an honorary doctorate from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev on Tuesday, von der Leyen stated that after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, “the Kremlin has used our dependency on Russian fossil fuels to blackmail us.”

“Since the beginning of the war, Russia has deliberately cut off its gas supplies to Poland, Bulgaria and Finland, and Dutch and Danish companies, in retaliation for our support of Ukraine. But the Kremlin’s behavior only strengthens our resolve to break free of our dependence on Russian fossil fuels,” she declared.

She highlighted two future projects with Israel to step up Europe’s energy cooperation with Israel.

The first is “the world’s longest and deepest underwater power cable, connecting Israel with Cyprus and Greece. This will eventually come from renewable sources,” she explained.

In March 2021, Israel signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the laying of the EuroAsia Interconnector that will connect Israel’s power grid to the European one.

The underwater cable will be laid in the Mediterranean Sea at a length of about 1,500 km and at a maximum depth of about 2,700 meters and will connect the electricity networks of the three countries to Europe.

The EuroAsia Interconnector will enable Israel to receive electricity from the European power grids in times of emergency, and more importantly, will also support Israel’s endeavor to significantly increase its reliance on solar power.

This electric line is the longest and deepest cable in the world and will be able to carry a capacity of 1,000-2,000 megawatts.

The second project, von der Leyen said, is a gas and clean hydrogen pipeline in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Israel has emerged as an energy empire in recent years following the significant gas discoveries off its shores, found in some 20 wells. The gas fields are not only economically important to Israel, but politically as well. In 2013, the Israeli government decided that the country should export 40% of its gas production and invest the profits in economic development. It plans to build a pipeline through Cyprus to Greece to provide Europe with gas, the EastMed project.

In total, some 35 trillion cubic feet of gas have been found in Israeli waters, worth some $500 billion.

Israel runs gas from its Leviathan field to the Liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities in Egypt, which can then be exported.

“This is an investment in both Europe’s and Israel’s energy security. And this infrastructure will also contribute to decarbonizing our energy mix. It is a great example of democracies sticking together not only in times of conflict but mostly to fight this huge enemy, the climate crisis,” said von der Leyen.

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