U.S. Dismisses EastMed Pipeline Project, Owing to Regional Concerns

The United States appears to have withdrawn its backing for a proposed pipeline in the eastern Mediterranean.

This pipeline sought to bring Israeli natural gas to Europe via Cyprus. Since the withdrawal, America has expressed its concerns about similar schemes in the area.

Greece’s media outlets obtained a copy of an unauthorized document released by the United States government, which expressed worry the project would be a “main source of friction” and may have a “devastating” effect.

Initially Backed During the Trump Administration

The initiatives, known as the EastMed pipeline project, were concurred upon by Israel, Cyprus, and Greece at the start of 2020.

They aimed to construct a pipeline that would leverage natural gas resources off the southern shores of Cyprus and deliver gas from the eastern Mediterranean area to nations throughout Europe.

That proposal had backing from the prior administration of President Trump as well.

However, Ankara denounced the pact, claiming it as an attempt to force it out of the area politically and economically, as well as an infringement on its energy and marine rights.

Turkey’s regional disagreements with Greece and Egypt, in particular, arose as a result of this, which considerably exacerbated already-existing tensions at the time.

As reported by the Greek state-owned television ERT, the US non-paper identified environmental issues, a complete absence of economic and commercial sustainability, and the escalation of tensions in the area as three reasons why the US government no longer endorses the EastMed venture.

The US Embassy in Athens released a statement following the revelations of the non-paper, trying to assure the public it remains dedicated to physically interlinking East Med energy to Europe.

The statement also said it continues to support projects like the scheduled EuroAfrica transmission system from Egypt to Crete and the Greek mainland.

This comes along with the recommended EuroAsia transmission system to connect the Israeli, Cypriot, and European power infrastructure.

Diversity from Russia

According to reports, the Trump administration approved the project because Europe needed to diversify its supply of energy away from Russia and more towards other countries, such as Israel, in order to remain competitive.

Although the current government of President Biden is modifying that strategy, per the embassy, the present administration is turning its attention away from promoting natural gas and toward boosting renewable sources of energy via electrical interconnectors.

Israel is also said to be concerned about the profitability of the EastMed initiative, which would cost more than $7 billion. It would also be implemented at a time when Tel Aviv and Europe are aiming to develop and rely on renewable energy sources in the future.

Per the London-based news outlet Middle East Eye, Turkey was not astonished by the decision.

They reported an unnamed Turkish spokesperson told the news outlet US authorities never believed the venture was conceivable and admitted they were aware of their judgment not to encourage it.