Greece launched an international tender on Monday for a study to assess the feasibility of a proposed pipeline to transmit gas from Israel and Cyprus in an effort to reduce dependence on Russian supplies.
The Eastern Mediterranean Pipeline is designed to initially carry 8 billion cubic meters a year of Israeli and Cypriot gas.
It would stretch from Israel's Leviathan natural gas field to Greece and onto European markets through the IGI-Poseidon pipeline, led by Italian utility Edison and state-controlled Greek utility DEPA.
The European Commission has said Cypriot gas could play an important role in diversifying supplies but its development is complicated by the long-standing rift between Cyprus and Turkey. The pipeline would pass through disputed waters.
Greece's Energy Minister Yiannis Maniatis said there was European interest in creating a new energy corridor, adding it could also reduce energy costs in the recession-hit country.
He said the project was "one more step towards turning Greece into the main gateway to Europe for gas from the Caspian Sea, the Middle East and the southeastern Mediterranean."
The most high-profile non-Russian gas project is one to ship Azeri natural gas from the Shah Deniz field, which has become a contest between the Nabucco West project into Austria, led by OMV and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline into Italy, led by Switzerland's AXPO and Statoil. [Reuters]