EU Signs Deal with Egypt and Israel to Boost Gas Exports to Europe

by Soeren Kern for the Gatestone Institute - June 30, 2022


Over time the agreement could spur new investment in gas exploration and infrastructure in Cyprus, Egypt, Greece and Israel and potentially transform the Eastern Mediterranean into an energy powerhouse.


European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen described the agreement as "a big step forward in the energy supply to Europe" and "the first step leading to a Mediterranean-wide agreement."


"The war in Ukraine has really changed the equation in a way, including for the EU where they're willing to overlook, at least in the short term, the desire to go green as soon as possible." — Dov Lieber, The Wall Street Journal, June 16, 2022.


The European Union has signed a memorandum of understanding with Israel and Egypt that paves the way for potentially significant quantities of Israeli natural gas to be shipped to Europe.


The trilateral agreement, signed on June 15 in Cairo at a meeting of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF), an intergovernmental organization, calls for Israeli gas to be sent to liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities in Egypt. From there, the gas in liquid form will be transported across the Mediterranean Sea on LNG vessels to markets in Europe.


Initially, the volumes of Israeli gas sent to Europe will be relatively low due to a combination of factors, including infrastructure limitations, the high costs of producing and shipping LNG, and the politics of climate change and clean energy. Over time, however, the agreement could spur new investment in gas exploration and infrastructure in Cyprus, Egypt, Greece and Israel and potentially transform the Eastern Mediterranean into an energy powerhouse.


European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen described the agreement as "a big step forward in the energy supply to Europe" and "the first step leading to a Mediterranean-wide agreement."


Non-Russian Energy

The EU has been scrambling to reduce its dependence on gas from Russia since February 2022, when Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine. In 2021, Russia supplied the EU with around 155 billion cubic meters (bcm), or 45% of the bloc's total gas imports, according to the International Energy Agency.


On March 8, the European Commission, the EU's administrative arm, unveiled an ambitious proposal to reduce imports of Russian gas by two-thirds before the end of 2022, and to make the EU independent from Russian fossil fuels by 2030. It called for increasing LNG imports from non-Russian sources by 50 billion cubic meters (bcm) in 2022.


Since then, non-Russian gas producers — including Algeria, Angola, Congo, Nigeria, Qatar, and the United States — have agreed to supply the EU with gas to reduce the bloc's dependence on Russia.


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Pictured: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (back) looks on as EU Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson (L), Egyptian Minister of Petroleum Tarek el-Molla (C), and Israeli Minister of Energy Karine Elharrar (R) sign a trilateral natural gas deal in Cairo on June 15, 2022. (Photo by Khaled Desouki/AFP via Getty Images)

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