Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) Turkey is looking to strengthen energy cooperation with Israel by reviving a natural gas pipeline project from Israel to Europe.
The plan faces obstacles as relations between the two countries were strained for years and the project is very expensive and complex, according to France24 reporting on Monday.
In March, Turkish President Recep Erdoğan expressed preparedness to work on joint energy and security projects with Israel, stressing that “Turkey has the experience and capacity to implement such projects.”
“The recent developments in our region have shown once again the importance of energy security,” he stressed, pointing to the war in Ukraine.
His Israeli counterpart Isaac Herzog visited Turkey in March to improve bilateral relations, with both leaders announcing a new era in Turkish-Israeli relations.
Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, is to visit Israel later this week. Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Fatih Dönmez is to visit Israel in the coming period as well, but it is not clear whether he will join Çavuşoğlu on the trip.
Project proposed in 2016
Israel and Turkey agreed to examine the possibility of building a natural gas pipeline from Israel to Europe in 2016, but made little progress due to tensions.
The pipeline is to run through contested waters in the Eastern Mediterranean, to which Cyprus, Greece and Turkey lay claims.
Turkey is dependent on Russian energy imports, with Russian gas covering roughly 45% of Turkey’s needs last year, and the conflict in Ukraine has prompted Ankara to diversify its supplies.
While Turkey imports Russian gas through pipelines, it also buys liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Algeria, Nigeria, Qatar and the US.
Necdet Pamir, an energy expert at the Cyprus International University, pointed out that “a gas pipeline crossing the south of Turkey in theory makes sense.”
He noted that Turkey’s demand for natural gas is growing and expected to reach roughly 62 billion cubic metres this year.
“We need alternative gas supplies and new agreements are in Turkey’s interests as long as the circumstances including the financing are ripe,” he concluded.
A Turkish official pointed out that the project would take a long time to complete, but stressed that it is feasible and reasonable.
Critics of the project say LNG terminals would make more sense politically and financially.