US voices misgivings on EastMed gas pipeline: Greek officials

The United States has expressed misgivings on a subsea pipeline designed to supply Europe with natural gas from the eastern Mediterranean, Greek government sources said, in an apparent U-turn over a project supported by the Trump administration.

Washington let its concerns be known recently, in a note sent to Greece, another source said.

Competing claims over gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean are a point of tension between Turkey and ethnically-split Cyprus. Turkey opposes the pipeline project.

Greece, Cyprus and Israel have approved an agreement for the EastMed pipeline, which has been in planning for several years. The countries had aimed to reach a final investment decision this year and have the 6-billion-euro scheme completed by 2025 to help Europe diversify its energy resources.

“The American side expressed to the Greek side reservations as to the rationale of the EastMed pipeline, (and) raised issues of its economic viability and environmental (issues),” one source said.

Reports of the United States having reservations over the pipeline were published in Greek media.

They stand in contrast to comments as recently as December 2020 by then-US Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette that the US would continue to work with interested parties to “ensure that the infrastructure will be developed.”

Greece, the official said, had taken note of Washington’s views. “The Greek side highlighted that this project has been declared a ‘special project’ by the European Union and any decision on its viability will logically have an economic impact,” the official said.

Touted as an alternative to help ease Europe’s dependence on Russian gas, the 1,900 km (1,180 mile) project is expected to initially carry 10 billion cubic meters of gas a year to Europe.

The United States, the official said, believed priority should be given to interconnecting the electricity grids of countries in the region.

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