Brussels (Brussels Morning) Israel’s Minister of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources, Karine Elharrar, has called for scrapping the Europe Asia pipeline deal with UAE.
She pointed out that the plan to move oil via the Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline operated by the Europe Asia Pipeline Company (EAPC) from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean presents too much of an environmental risk, Reuters reports.
Her opposition to the plan means that the Israeli government cannot approve the deal, one of the largest that have emerged from normalisation of relations between Israel and UAE in the last year or so.
The Israeli state-owned EAPC had signed the deal with MED-RED Land Bridge, which has UAE and Israeli owners.
The plan was to unload oil tankers in the port of Eilat in the Red Sea and move the oil via an existing pipeline through Israel to the Mediterranean.
Deal would increase tanker traffic
According to Israeli officials, maritime traffic would increase sharply if the deal was implemented, from about six tankers per year to more than 50 docking in Eilat, which is near the Eilat’s Coral Beach Nature Reserve and Conservation area.
The two companies point out that the land bridge is the shortest and most cost-effective way to transport oil from the Red Sea to Europe. EAPC noted that the new agreement meets the highest international standards and has geopolitical benefits.
On the other hand, environmental activists have petitioned the Supreme Court of Israel to halt the deal, stressing that the expected rise in oil tanker traffic represents a great environmental risk.
“I am calling to cancel the EAPC agreement”, Elharrar announced, adding that “it poses many risks to the Gulf of Eilat, to residents, and it does not benefit Israel’s energy market.”
She stressed that UAE officials assured her the agreement is seen as a deal between private companies and scrapping it “is not expected to impact ties between the countries.”