Greek Parliament Expected to Ratify EastMed Gas Pipeline Accord this Month, Despite Conflict with Turkish Claims

On May 11, a Greek parliamentary committee overwhelmingly ratified the EastMed pipeline accord signed in January 2020 by Greece, Cyprus and Israel. The accord stipulates cooperation between the three countries for construction of the 2,000 km East Mediterranean offshore pipeline that intends to transport approximately 10 billion cubic meters of gas annually, from Israel’s Leviathan basin to Europe and help mitigate the continent’s dependency on Russian gas.

The issue of how and when to develop natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean has seen some agreement among key countries, such as Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Cyprus, Greece and Italy, while alienating others, mainly Turkey.  The tensions over Ankara’s claims on Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) has increased substantially due to its drilling activity in the disputed maritime territory. Ankara has gone so far as to declare new maritime boundaries with Libya that extend its claims over disputed offshore energy assets and overlap with the EastMed pipeline’s planned route to Europe.

Notably, Russia has remained relatively quiet amid this rising Turkish-Cypriot tension, despite increasing its own military presence in the eastern Mediterranean (via its base in Syria).)  Still, as the pipeline project progresses, this space should be monitored for Russian influence efforts, fanning conflict over the pipeline and Turkey’s claims in a manner that delays a strategic pipeline that does not appear to be in its interests.

At present, a plenary vote on the pipeline accord is scheduled to be held by the Greek parliament on May 14. Barring any coronavirus-related delays, a final investment decision on the EastMed pipeline is expected by 2022 and completion of the project by 2025.