Conveying Gas to Europe by Undersea Pipeline Unfeasible

The transfer of East Mediterranean natural gas to Europe can be achieved through Greece and Italy, but for the project to be viable, its pipeline needs to run through Turkey, the Chairman of Damnus Energy & Investment, Inc. told Ankara Anatolia News Agency.

Greece, Israel, Italy and the Greek Cypriot administration are anxious to seal a deal without the participation of Turkey, hence East Mediterranean gas has become a controversial issue and a political one, he said.

These countries signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Tuesday to transfer natural gas from Israel to Italy via an undersea gas pipeline. This has raised questions as to the feasibility of the project, Damnus chairman Nusret Comert told AA news agency.

This agreement is politically motivated because the project is not based on financial reality.

I would recommend to our Greek, Italian and other European friends not to worry about natural gas resources in the East Mediterranean. These resources can flow to Europe through Greece and Italy, but only after it comes through Turkey”, said Comert.

He also pointed to the enormous depth at which the Aphrodite gas field was located, and the great distance the pipeline would need to cover. Comert said that laying the pipeline over the lengthy 2,200-kilometre route, which can only be laid at a maximum depth of 3.3 kilometres, would be a problem.

The source of some of the East Mediterranean gas, the Aphrodite gas field offshore south Cyprus, with a capacity of 110 million cubic metres, is at a depth that will make it impossible to reach, according to Prof. Ata Atun from the Near East University in the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus.

It will take over a decade for new drilling technologies to be developed to reach the deep resources in this field, he argued.

The depth of Aphrodite gas field is close to 3,200 meters. Today’s technology will allow drilling and production of natural gas up to 1,800 meters deep”, he explained.

Financially, the project’s viability is also doubtful given current oil market prices.

The project aims to carry 12-16 billion cubic meters with the project costing close to 6 billion euros. If we convert this to thousand cubic meters, we face very high numbers”. he said, adding that the project can only make profits if oil is priced all time high levels. However, he said that based on current prices, the realisation of such a pipeline project is unfeasible.

The question of sufficient gas supplies also comes up for examination. According to Comert, the Greek Cypriots know that they do not have enough gas to produce or export, but Israel has.

Nonetheless, the best route for all gas resources in the region is still through Turkey, he affirmed.

Comert said that so far, no major energy companies, like Noble or Delek have become involved in the project.

The only thing that we have seen is the signatures of politicians”, he said.

We cannot deny the importance of political support but major energy projects require the support of private companies and finance,” he noted, adding that one of Turkey’s major projects to carry Azeri and Turkmen gas to Europe via Turkey, the Nabucco gas pipeline project failed to get off the ground.

The Nabucco pipeline never materialised because of instability in the region and its high cost, despite the political support from the EU, the US, Turkey and Azerbaijan. The pipeline planned to carry Azeri and Turkmen gas to Europe via Turkey and the project also considered carrying Iranian and Iraqi gas.

According to Prof. Atun of EMU, Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus signed a recent hydrocarbon exploration contract around Cyprus, this had made the Greek Cypriot administration became anxious.

He said the quadrilateral memorandum of understanding (MoU) in retaliation “is a theatrical play” in which the Greek Cypriots are trying to find international support for their unilateral attempts to gain benefits from Cyprus’s natural resources.

Ankara Anatolia News Agency

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