The US State Department’s non-paper with which Washington has distanced itself from the construction of the EastMed gas pipeline, due in part to the tension that Ankara systematically cultivates in the Eastern Mediterranean, has raised the diplomatic alarm in Athens. A possible cancellation of the project would look like a nod to Turkey.
The construction of the pipeline is of great political importance as it envisages cooperation between Greece, Cyprus and Israel under the US umbrella in the Eastern Mediterranean, bypassing Turkey and in effect canceling the memorandum of understanding between that country and Libya’s Government of National Accord, and Ankara’s unrealistic claims regarding the Turkish exclusive economic zone.
However, this pharaonic project has ceased to be considered economically viable for years now. With a mammoth budget between 6 billion and 8 billion dollars due to the 1,000-kilometer submarine pipeline that would connect Israel to Crete and the Peloponnese, the project could only raise the required funds if it had long-term support.
But the new European Union climate policy predicts a zero carbon footprint by 2050, so the pipeline seen transporting gas to Europe would have to cover its costs and earn its keep all within 28 years – which is impossible.
After all, experts on the subject have long distanced themselves from its construction. Dr Dan Rabinowitz, a professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Tel Aviv University, described the investment as outdated in an interview with Kathimerini last year. “It is talk of the past. We have embarked on the era of renewables because of the advances in technology that happened around 2018, while the momentum in oil and gas in the area developed between 2012 and 2017… Natural gas, which everybody was celebrating 10 years ago, is now a thing of the past. It’s like trying to raise a dinosaur.”
Besides, natural gas from the region can be transported to Europe – for as long as we will still use it – on LNG ships, which are widely used by the Greek shipping industry.
In other words, every cloud has a silver lining. And as for the exclusive economic zone, Greece has many other ways to secure its sovereign rights by focusing its diplomatic weapons on realistic goals rather than impossible plans.