US Should Link Eastern Mediterranean Gas to Europe to Subvert Russia
The Biden administration should suspend its hyper-focus on renewable energy and support efforts to prevent Russian energy blackmail against our European allies. The European Union (EU) has said it will cut its dependence on Russian gas by two-thirds. If the United States is serious about energy security in Europe, it must help ensure that natural gas from the Eastern Mediterranean reaches European shores.
At the end of January, President BidenJoe BidenSaudi Arabia invites Chinese Xi to visit Riyadh: Report Biden attends in-person DNC fundraiser to tout climate agenda Man charged with attempted murder and hate crimes after Asian woman of New York was struck 125 times MORE took the opposite route, surprising Greece, Israel and Cyprus – the regional entities of the US-sponsored “3+1” cooperation framework – by withdrawing their support for the EastMed pipeline, a multi-billion dollar unfunded concept designed in 2016 that would have brought gas from the Eastern Mediterranean to Europe via an underground gas pipeline. Biden cited concerns over climate change and economic viability, two arguably reasonable positions at the time. However, given Russia’s war in Ukraine and its downstream effects, Biden needs to be flexible and adapt his natural gas policy.
Eastern Mediterranean gas could diversify Europe’s energy portfolio. Israel alone has about 2.2 trillion cubic meters of gas awaiting discovery. While it would not meet all of Europe’s needs, it would help offset Russian gas imports. NATO countries such as Germany, Italy and Turkey could benefit from new suppliers, especially as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz halted the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project which would have increased the country’s dependence on Russian gas. Like Germany, Italy is looking for alternative sources.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who met with Israeli leaders last week, said Turkey was open to exploring gas pipeline possibilities with Israel that could integrate with the European gas pipeline network. Of course, any collaboration with Turkey must be based on Erdogan fulfilling certain conditions given his history of antagonism against his allies in the eastern Mediterranean and his overbroad interpretation of maritime borders and exclusive economic zones.
While most of the debates about gas from the Eastern Mediterranean and Europe focus on gas pipelines, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) also presents options for bringing gas from the Eastern Mediterranean to Europe by sea and earthly. Currently, a relatively small amount of Israeli gas is channeled to Europe via LNG facilities in Egypt, host of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF). The United States should emphasize support for the EMGF, as it should for the 3+1, by building Israel’s LNG capacity so that it can be a real player in the European market; supporting Egypt’s LNG potential; and encouraging new investments from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar in LNG so that European destinations can be reached and infrastructure is sufficient to meet demand.
There are political and financial risks to all of this. Many of these states have frosty relations, if any at all. Record gasoline prices and market volatility are the new normal. Moreover, none of these proposals would take effect for years, while renewable energy could potentially render them all but obsolete. Given this, many reasonable analysts have concluded that Eastern Mediterranean natural gas will remain regional.
But the emergency we face in Ukraine will affect global energy markets and international business for years to come. US policy can adapt to medium-term needs, supporting access to natural gas from the eastern Mediterranean, and still seek short-term solutions such as working with Qatar and Azerbaijan – while keeping a eye on long-term climate change goals such as phasing out fossil fuels. fuels. As for the feasibility issues, last week Chevron CEO Michael Wirth came out in favor of the EastMed pipeline due to the current crisis.
Linking Eastern Mediterranean gas to Europe could have a profound psychological effect on the Russian president Vladimir PoutineVladimir Vladimirovich PutinInternational Criminal Court to rule on genocide allegations against Russia Defense and national security overnight – Presented by AM General – US fears China will help Russia Lawmakers pressure on Biden reaches its limits MORE. This would undermine Russia as a player in the region’s energy market and militarily. Putin is using the Russian base in Tartous, Syria, and its intimate relationship with Bashar al-Assad’s regime as leverage to exploit offshore energy opportunities and the power of the project. Russia also supplies Greece with a significant amount of its natural gas.
US investments aimed at integrating the economies of the Eastern Mediterranean and Europe through the sale of natural gas would strengthen Western relations with the states bordering the Eastern Mediterranean and reduce Russia’s ability to find financial partnerships beyond. of Syria. This may have been the thinking of the EU when it recently funded an initiative to connect the power grids of Israel, Greece and Cyprus to that of Europe.
The eastern Mediterranean is a flashpoint for great power competition – and potential friction – as major NATO and non-NATO allies ramp up joint military drills and drills to protect their offshore assets and waters territories from foreign threats. The United States does not project much military power in the eastern Mediterranean, despite its geopolitical importance and proximity to vital waterways such as the Suez Canal. As the United States retreats from the region, it must leave in place a regional security architecture that provides stability, respect for the rule of law, and deterrence to nefarious actors like Putin. Sponsoring energy ties with Europe would signal to Putin that the United States (and indirectly NATO) remains committed to its Eastern Mediterranean allies, who will certainly step up military cooperation as the stakes rise.
As stated in the bipartisan Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019: “Natural gas developments in the Eastern Mediterranean have the potential to generate economic gains and contribute to energy security in the region and in Europe, as well as supporting European diversification efforts. natural gas supplied by the Russian Federation. As the war in Ukraine rages on, natural gas prices in Europe have hit record highs.
Climate change goals are important and renewables may be the future, but we need to recalibrate our focus in these perilous times. Biden should reverse his rejection of the EastMed pipeline and have the United States take a leadership position in crafting a plan to get much-needed Eastern Mediterranean gas to the European market.
Nicholas Saidel is associate director of the Institute for Strategic Threat Analysis and Response at the University of Pennsylvania. He was previously a Fellow of the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law at Penn Law School; a partner at the law firm Wolf, Block LLP; a legislative aide to Rep. Robert A. Brady (D-Pa.); and Fellow of the Foreign Policy Research Institute.
Godfrey Garner is professor of counterterrorism at Mississippi College and adjunct professor at Tulane University and Belhaven University. He completed two tours in Vietnam and two tours in Afghanistan with the 20th Special Forces Group. He is co-author of the manual “Origins of Terrorism: The Rise of the World’s Most Formidable Terrorist Groups”.