Big Question Marks over the Viability of the East Med Gas Pipeline

Following reports of US reservations over the financial and environmental sustainability of the EastMed natural gas pipeline project, a State Department spokesman has affirmed Washington’s commitment to the 3+1 regional alliance scheme (Cyprus, Greece, Israel plus the US), while emphasizing that Europe’s energy independence is a key national security issue.

“At a time when Europe’s energy security is – more than ever – a question of national security, we are committed to deepening our regional relationships and promoting clean energy technologies,” the spokesperson said in response to a question by Greek media.

“The United States continues to strongly support regional efforts that enhance and promote cooperation and regional stability, including the 3+1 mechanism in which the Republic of Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and the United States participate,” the spokesperson said.

“We remain committed to physically interconnecting East Med energy to Europe,” the spokesperson said, adding that the US is shifting its focus to electricity interconnectors that can support both gas and renewable energy sources.

According to the State Department official, Washington supports projects such as the planned EuroAfrica interconnector from Egypt to the island of Crete and the Greek mainland, as well as the proposed EuroAsia interconnector to link the Israeli, Cypriot and European electricity grids.

“Such projects would not only connect vital energy markets but would also help prepare the region for the clean energy transition,” the official said.

Asked by Lebanon Gas News to comment, oil and gas specialist Abboud Zahr said the project is highly political and technically challenging due to ultra-deep-water areas which it will have to pass through.

“As mentioned in several of my internationally published articles since 2017, the high construction cost of the pipeline, which will be factored in the price of the delivered gas, leading it to be higher than the present Russian gas price that the EU counties are paying, thus, making the project not viable.” Zahr added.