The market test for the EastMed pipeline – the project to transport natural gas from East Mediterranean gas fields to Italy and Central Europe through Greece – is expected to take place by the end of 2023, officials of owner IGI Poseidon told Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA).
IGI Poseidon belongs in equal shares (50%-50%) to Greece’s DEPA International Projects and Italy’s Edison.
The natural gas pipeline is 2,000 km long (over 1,400 km lie underwater) and will be able to transport at its final stage 21 billion cubic meters of gas annually. The project has been in talks for a decade, while it was included in the EU’s Projects of Common Interest (PCI) since 2013. According to information, the project will be included anew in the updated list expected to be announced in the fall.
Doubts about the project’s feasibility – as to the cost of over 6 billion euros and the technical challenges that included a maximum sea depth of 3,000 meters – among other issues have kept the project in suspension. But Russia’s invasion in Ukraine that led to the EU’s decision to decrease dependency on Russian gas imports has given new impetus to the project.
IGI Poseidon officials told ANA-MPA that the market test will evaluate market interest in the pipeline, while it will also examine the existence of enough natural gas quantities in the gas fields discovered so far and interest in having the gas transported to Europe. The pipeline has been designed to allow for the transfer of green hydrogen also, in which the Middle East is a leading producer.
The governments of Greece, Cyprus, and Israel signed an interstate agreement on January 2,2020 to support the construction of the project. The Italian government was not party to the agreement, but in May the Italian Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee adopted a resolution calling on the government to negotiate with related countries to develop the project in order to provide a differentiated energy supply.
The project’s Report on Environmental and Social Repercussions of the natural gas pipeline saw among benefits the addition of new energy sources to remote corners of the EU, an expansion of the South Corridor of Natural Gas within the EU and sources lying by the borders, and the creation of a new energy corridor to encourage the transition of Southeast Europe and the East Mediterranean to a viable and efficient energy transport network that also supports the construction of hydrogen-producing units.