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29 May, 2024
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Italians come clean on EastMed gas

ENI boss tells unsurprised lawmakers EastMed plans must include Turkey


Turkey cannot be left out of the natural gas game in the eastern Mediterranean according to ENI’s newly re-elected CEO Claudio Descalzi, whose recent comments during a parliamentary hearing committee echoed latest developments but also gave credence to Rome’s previous doubts over Cypriot endeavors that bypass Ankara.

(Click here for an update to the story)

During an Italian parliamentary hearing on the EastMed Project on Wednesday, lawmakers heard from Descalzi who doubted that Cyprus, Greece, and Israel would ever agree on a natural gas pipeline to Europe without Turkey’s participation.

“Any agreement of this kind must be made with Turkey,” Descalzi said.

The statements came after Cypriot Energy Minister George Papanastasiou played down plans for an ambitious EastMed undersea pipeline that was to take gas from the region to Europe while bypassing Turkey.

Papanastasiou clarified last week that “EastMed” was now referring to a “virtual corridor” where liquefied gas from a proposed hub in Cyprus could go to Europe but also elsewhere.

Descalzi made references to a number of complicated and unresolved issues, including Cypriot-Israeli disputes and a contested Turkey-Libya agreement

Descalzi, the longest-serving company head of the state-controlled group, also pointed out a number of complicated and unresolved issues, including a Cypriot-Israeli dispute and a contested Turkey-Libya agreement.

But the comments were nothing new to Paolo Formentini, vice chair on the foreign affairs committee, who said it “did not surprise us” and further argued that the key concept articulated by the ENI CEO was “feasible.”

“We hope that Israel will be able to continue the dialogue with Turkey,” Formentini said.

The committee hearing in Rome took place weeks after the sale of a Lukoil refinery plant in Sicily to Cypriot private equity firm GOI Energy was approved by the Cabinet of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who reportedly favors Descalzi after he was credited last year with helping Rome secure alternative gas supplies.

Little information has been provided on the deal but Knews previously reported that the Cypriot offer, which outbid an American proposal, was believed to have included terms that might allow the leadership of the new operation to include executives from both Russian and Ukrainian stock.

Turkey, clickbait, and bad translations

Back in 2019, Rome raised eyebrows when Italian officials failed to attend a ceremony in Athens for signing the EastMed pipeline agreement. The incident, which was played down in Nicosia, took place following statements from Greece that said the project would proceed despite objections from Turkey.

Last year Reuters had to issue a correction after Greek Cypriot media republished a badly-translated statement attributed to ENI Chief Operating Officer Guido Brusco, who had reportedly said the Eastmed pipeline would be fully completed by 2025.

The global news agency later issued a correction saying the company “would fully replace Russian gas by 2025 by drawing additional resources from gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean.”

Cyprus  |  Italy  |  ENI  |  natural gas  |  EastMed  |  Turkey  |  pipeline  |  LNG

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