Italy might become involved politically and support natural gas exports from Israel to Union Fenosa Gas’ LNG facility in Damietta, Egypt, according to Israeli sources.
The sources claim that following a push from Matteo Renzi, the Italian PM, a delegation of Eni executives is expected in Israel this week for a meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In the last few days Mr. Netanyahu has increased his efforts to get an approval for the natural gas regulatory framework. A meeting with Eni delegation, although it will be only and initial stage in possible commercial negotiations, might help Mr. Netanyahu to pass the framework. Eni has a 50% stake in UFG, which in turn has 80% stake in the LNG facility in Damietta.
On August 30th, Mr. Renzi held a press conference with Mr. Netanyahu in Florence, just hours after Eni had announced its huge Zohr discovery. Afterwards he suggested to Netanyahu cooperation amongst Egypt, Israel and Cyprus in promoting the gas deal.
That ‘new’ initiative is, actually not new at all, since Tamar consortium signed an MOU with UFG for exporting gas from Israel through its facility in Egypt 17 months ago. So it seems as if the new initiative should just inject a bit more energy and urgency into the stalemate in the Mediterranean natural gas industry.
One of the motives for the deal, according to the report, is enmity towards Turkey’s Erdogan, shared by “everyone together, including Cyprus and Greece… and this [deal] will enable all this east Mediterranean hub to basically bypass Turkey and enjoy energy independence and of course a lot of income as well.”