ENERGY

Nicosia told to find alternative to EastMed

Nicosia told to find alternative to EastMed

A US energy official urged Nicosia to seek “other options” if the island wanted to get energy quickly into markets, with Italy doing just that earlier this week when Rome clinched a deal with Algeria to replace Russian gas imports through the Transmed pipeline.

In an interview with the Cyprus News Agency this week, US energy official Laura Lochman said the Eastern Mediterranean was critical for energy security and urged Nicosia to be a team player in the game.

“Fortifying European energy security at this point is important from many perspectives and the East Mediterranean can be part of the solution,” Lochman said.

The deputy assistant secretary of state for energy diplomacy also pointed to the war in Ukraine and said it had brought big changes to the energy market.

“The need in Europe at this point is great due to the unprovoked and completely unjustified Russian invasion of Ukraine, or re-invasion of Ukraine, and that has turned all of the markets topsy-turvy,” Lochman said. She added that Nicosia’s plan to pursue an expensive EastMed natural gas pipeline “would not be something that would be an immediate-term or even a midterm solution.”

“If you need to get energy into the markets more immediately it seems to us that it would make more sense to take advantage of other options,” Lochman said, such as using LNG facilities in Egypt to ship gas to Europe as well as taking advantage of existing infrastructure through short interconnectors.

An example of a short interconnector also made headlines this week after Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi visited Algeria to sign a gas supply deal aimed at reducing Italian energy dependence on Russia.

Nicosia has been pursuing an EastMed underwater pipeline with Israel and Greece, while Italy had shown interest but never fully committed to the details of the plan.

Asked by CNA to weigh in on Turkey-Israel pipeline discussions, Lochman said, “From our perspective the fact that various players in the region are talking to one another about cooperating on energy security issues is fantastic.”

“Any forum, any discussion that brings the partners together in cooperation on this front and for equitable sharing of benefits between the countries and the communities, that helps everything move forward,” she said.