Israel, Egypt and the European Union signed a significant deal today that will result in the increase of national gas supplied from the Middle East as the EU seeks to break free of dependency on Russian energy sources.
“With this agreement we will work on the stable delivery of natural gas to the EU from the East Med region,” European Commissioner President Ursula von der Leyen posted on Twitter. “This will contribute to our energy security. And we are building infrastructure fit for renewables – the energy of the future.”
The EU, which last year imported about 40% of its gas from Russia, has found itself facing an energy crisis due to sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
“It is known that the Russian war against Ukraine has exposed our European dependency on Russian fossil fuels and we want to get rid of this dependency,” von der Leyen said in a joint news conference with Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
The memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed this morning in Cairo just one day after von der Leyen was in Israel “to advance relations between the EU and Israel, especially cooperation in the area of energy,” according to the EU’s embassy in Israel.
Just yesterday, EU Deputy Chief Spokesperson Dana Spinant told reporters to “stay tuned for announcements that we are going to make on energy cooperation with Israel and other partners in the region.”
After the signing, Israeli Energy Minister Karine Elharrar said, “Today Egypt and Israel make a commitment to share our natural gas with Europe and to help with the energy crisis.”
“This is a statement to those who see in our region only negative forces such as division and conflict,” Elharrar said referring to Israel and Egypt working together. “This (MOU) shows us that we are paving a new path of partnership, solidarity and sustainability.”
Egyptian Petroleum Minister Tarek El Molla believes the deal – “an important milestone” – will pave the way for cooperation between other nations in the East Mediterranean Gas Forum including Jordan, Cyprus, Greece, the Palestinian Authority, France and Italy.
Von der Leyen also indicated “a Mediterranean-wide agreement” could be in the works, diverting attention from sources in the north to more recent discoveries further south in the Mediterranean Sea.
Some Israeli gas is already sent by pipeline to liquefaction plants on Egypt's Mediterranean coast, from where it is re-exported as liquefied natural gas (LNG). Officials say they expect shipments of LNG from Egypt to Europe to increase under the agreement, though they have said it would likely take a couple of years before the exports can be significantly expanded.
The agreement, however, also plans for a decrease in gas imports due to the EU's commitment to a zero-emission economy by 2050.
Nicole Jansezian is the news editor for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS