Nicosia, Jun 1 (IANS): Cyprus' Energy Minister Giorgos Papanastasiou has said that several energy companies are interested in building a natural gas pipeline between Israeli gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus.
He added on Wednesday that this was the conclusion of a two-day workshop held in Nicosia that involved many companies active in the pipeline construction and the energy exploration sectors in the eastern Mediterranean, Xinhua news agency reported.
Papanastasiou, who also holds the commerce and industry portfolio, told Cyprus' state CyBC radio that companies owning gas fields in Israel's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to the southeast of Cyprus expressed an interest in selling gas both for electricity production in Cyprus and for liquefaction and export to other countries.
The Minister said the interest expressed by the stakeholders is expected to be made official after the signing of an agreement between the two countries.
Papanastasiou added that he will visit Israel on June 14 and 15 with the aim of concluding and signing a deal, which was agreed in principle during a visit to Jerusalem by President Nikos Christodoulides two weeks ago.
He said that if things develop as planned, Israeli gas will reach Cyprus within 30 months.
"Our objective is low-cost electricity," Papanastasiou added.
Israel and Cyprus have both discovered extensive natural gas fields in their adjoining EEZs in the eastern Mediterranean. A gas pipeline from Israeli fields is envisaged to also link Cypriot gas fields in the area.
The project to bring natural gas to Cyprus for local use and for liquefaction would in practice scrap a plan to build an expensive EastMed pipeline linking the eastern Mediterranean gas fields with Europe.
"Instead of a direct pipeline link with Europe there will be a virtual pipeline through Cyprus connecting Israel and Europe," Papanastasiou said.
The EastMed pipeline, an ambitious plan which originally had the support of Europe and the US, has suffered several setbacks, especially after Washington withdrew its support to the project in 2022.