Israel wants link to Turk-Azeri pipelines

BAKU (Reuters) – Israel wants pipelines carrying oil and gas from Azerbaijan to Turkey to be extended into its territory, Israeli Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer said yesterday. Azeri oil and gas exports are due to flow to Turkey via the Baku-Ceyhan and Baku-Erzurum pipelines respectively, but Ben-Eliezer said Israel wanted both extended to feed Israel’s energy-poor economy and allow Azeri gas a route to Asia. «We and the Azeris are interested in transporting Azeri oil from Ceyhan through the Israeli Ashkelon-Eilat pipeline, and from there to big markets like India and China,» he told a news conference in Baku. He said Israel’s 254-kilometer pipeline running between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea was «the cheapest and shortest route» between the two bodies of water. The $4 billion Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, led by Britain’s BP Plc, is scheduled to be launched in July after repeated delays, and will eventually export more than 1 million barrels of oil per day from the Caspian. Ben-Eliezer said Azerbaijan already supplies 2 million tons of oil a year (40,000 barrels per day) to Israel but he wants it to meet much more of the nation’s demand of 12 million tons a year. To meet its gas needs, Israel wants Azerbaijan to offer a similar deal to one already signed with Egypt, he said, under which it will pay $2.5 billion to buy 1.7 billion cubic meters of gas over 15 years, with an option for a further five years.