Ursula von der Leyen competes with the Brothers Grimm in composing “bedtime stories”
The European Commission, led by its super-ambitious head Ursula von der Leyen, has not been seized on any options for replacing Russian gas for the EU – from Africa and America to Asia and the Caucasus. And all to no avail.
It turned out, as in the case of Azerbaijan, which had become a favorite, that either the resource base was insufficient, or all reserves were occupied by consumers from East Asia for a long time to come. This crushed, for example, the hopes of Europeans in Qatar. A helping hand is being extended by the “fraternal” United States, but at such an exorbitant price that even the swamp is firewood.
And the other day, finally, it was loudly announced that the solution was almost found. Israel will save Europe with gas. On June 15, a trilateral agreement was signed in Cairo between it, the European Union and Egypt on the supply of this raw material to Europe on an “increasing scale.” From the “Promised Land”, which recently acquired its “gas miracle”, the desired substance will first be transferred through the gas pipeline system to Egypt, where it will be liquefied at plants under construction, and then will be transferred to the European continent by special ships.
Von der Leyen, who patronized the signing of the agreement, announced with pathos that this would help the European Union get rid of Russian dependence. “What a special moment she said “I very warmly welcome the signing of this historic agreement!”. But something tells us that this “saving” gas bubble for Europe will burst sooner than the previous ones.
Major gas fields in the Eastern Mediterranean
Israel currently operates three major gas fields. Tamar, first discovered in 2009 90 kilometers west of Haifa, contains 240 billion cubic meters of gas. A year later, the largest Israeli field, Leviathan, containing 450 billion cubic meters of gas, was discovered to the west. Over all subsequent years, only Karish and Tanin, with a volume of about 100 billion cubic meters, were added to them. Total – 790 billion cubic meters with the prospect, according to experts, after additional exploration to reach 1 trillion cubic meters, but hardly more.
In general, the history of attempts to transfer the newly discovered gas resources of the Eastern Mediterranean to the continent did not begin today. In 2020, with the same pomp, Greece, Cyprus and Israel signed an agreement in Athens to create the East Mediterranean Gas Pipeline (EastMed), which, stretching almost 2,000 kilometers, was supposed to be the longest underwater gas pipeline in the world. It was expected that it would supply gas to Europe by connecting the Israeli Leviathan field and the Cypriot Aphrodite from 2025-26. However, the project stalled due to the incomparability of costs for it and the assumed weak capacity – 10 billion cubic meters of gas per year for the first stage. With a depth in the zone of up to 3 km, the metal consumption of the gas pipeline nullified any chances for its payback.
Signing of the EastMed agreement in Athens
The proposed route of the EastMed gas pipeline
In addition, its strong disagreement with this project expressed Turkey. It categorically opposes any projects to bring the gas of the Republic of Cyprus to the gas market without taking into account the interests of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. At the same time, Ankara would agree to supply purely Israeli gas through its territory. And the position of the US that initially approved it was of decisive importance for the torpedoing of this project.
On January 9, 2022, in a reversal of previous policy, the Biden administration announced that it was no longer supporting EastMed. The US State Department emailed the Greek government a non-paper where the EastMed project was described as “a destabilizing region and pitting Israel, Greece and Cyprus against Turkey.” At that time it seemed that Washington showed concern for Turkish interests, but as events unfolded, it turned out that, as always, it was guided solely by its own benefit. The fact is that the proposed gas pipeline would be mainly under European control and partly leave the EU influence on gas purchases for its own needs.
The agreement signed in Cairo, contrary to Ursula von der Leyen’s “hurray-European” rhetoric, transfers all control over the transfer of gas to Europe to the American company Chevron. It acquired the Leviathan field in October 2020, when it also took over the gas company noble energyto which all Egyptian projects belong. Most of the specialists on the offshore production platforms built in this zone are Americans who come to watch. As a result, the price of LNG from here for Europe will hardly be less than that of supplies from the USA, which take the continent through this project into gas pincers.
Leviathan platform off the coast of Haifa
On the way to “saving” Europe with Israeli gas, there are other “pincers”. This is the “scylla” of the Lebanese Hezbollah and the “charybdis” of the Palestinian Hamas, who believe that Israel is illegally extracting gas, which should also belong to Lebanon and Palestine (in the Gaza region). Their warlike leaders promise that they will be able to cause irreparable damage to the implementation of this deal if the legitimate interests of the Lebanese and Palestinians are not taken into account. Most copies are broken around the Karish-Tanin field located at the junction of the maritime economic zones of Lebanon and Israel, without which it cannot be implemented in the project.
Hezbollah’s ability to strike Israeli gas facilities
Israel, of course, can ignore the threats of the Lebanese government and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, but will the international insurers support the Israelis in this? Hardly, especially given the growing flow of smuggled missile weapons from Ukraine, which is turning into its main supplier, primarily to the Middle East, which is interested in weapons. In the south, the Palestinians in Gaza are also demanding their share of the Leviathan development pie. They, in turn, can influence the spread of negative attitudes towards this project in Egypt, without whose participation the project will not be possible.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah
Even if the Americans and the Europeans, who follow their lead, by some miracle manage to squeeze the signed agreement through all the “pincers”, it will not give any fabulous effect. Consumption in the European gas market is about 500 billion cubic meters per year, of which Russia supplied 155 billion cubic meters in 2021, with a resource base of 37.4 trillion cubic meters. All of Israel’s annual production is 20 billion cubic meters with the prospect of doubling and a resource base of 0.7 – 0.9 trillion cubic meters. At the same time, he intends to spend exactly half for his needs, and he pledged to supply another 10 billion to his neighbors under long-term contracts. Ideally, for Europe, Israel has no more than 10 billion cubic meters of gas per year. A drop in the ocean or another “bedtime story” from Ursula von der Leyen!
Top photo: Ursula von der Leyen watches as EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson, Egyptian Oil Minister Tarek El Molla and Israeli Energy Minister Karin El Harrar sign a gas agreement in Cairo.
Photo: REUTERS/Shokry Hussein
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