Squaring the triangle: Why Turkey and the EastMed project need each other

Source:War on the Rocks Date:20Apr2019

EastMed, if and when completed, will transport up to 352 billion cubic feet of natural gas annually along a 1,250-mile pipeline through overland and underwater pipelines across Cyprus and Greece to reach interconnector terminals in Italy. The European Commission has deemed the project technically and commercially viable, opening the way for both Cyprus and Israel to benefit from the export sales of their gas resources, and for Greece to collect substantial transport fees. To reap the economic benefits of the project, Cyprus, Israel, and Greece must all work collaboratively. But, as the March 20 summit has shown, the three countries are eager to strengthen their ties and make the pipeline a reality.

Despite this good will, there remain numerous obstacles, both geopolitical and commercial, to the realization of EastMed. In particular, the ongoing dispute between Cyprus and Turkey is a major confounding variable, forcing the pipeline to take a much longer and costlier route to avoid Turkey’s maritime boundaries. Besides the extra cost and inconvenience, there are mounting concerns that Turkish vessels could continue to interfere with maritime drilling activities, a situation that could endanger the pipeline. Overcoming these obstacles will not only require unified action between Israel, Cyprus, and Greece, but a concerted effort to find common ground with Turkey to turn the “Energy Triangle” into an “Energy Square.”