(Adds Cypriot energy minister)
ATHENS, March 10 Greece launched an
international tender on Monday for a study on the feasibility of
a proposed pipeline to carry gas from Israel and Cyprus in an
effort to reduce dependence on Russian supplies.
The Eastern Mediterranean Pipeline is designed to initially
carry 8 billion cubic metres a year of Israeli and Cypriot gas.
It would stretch from Israel's Leviathan natural gas field
to Greece and onto European markets through the IGI-Poseidon
pipeline, led by Italian utility Edison and
state-controlled Greek utility DEPA.
The European Commission has said Cypriot gas could play an
important role in diversifying supplies but its development is
complicated by the long-standing rift between Cyprus and Turkey.
The pipeline would pass through disputed waters.
Greece's Energy Minister Yannis Maniatis said there was
European interest in creating a new energy corridor, adding it
could also reduce energy costs in the recession-hit country.
He said the project was "one more step towards turning
Greece into the main gateway to Europe for gas from the Caspian
Sea, the Middle East and the southeastern Mediterranean."
For Cyprus, the pipeline is one of three so-called Projects
of Common Interest (PCI) involving the island, approved by the
European Commission, which has backed 250 power and gas projects
designed to curb reliance on Russian gas imports and create a
The other two are Cypriot plans to create a Liquefied
Natural Gas terminal on its southern coast, and a subsea
electricity cable linking Israel, Cyprus and Greece.
Cypriot energy minister George Lakkotrypis told Reuters the
pipeline feasibility study would be led by Greece in
collaboration with Cyprus.
"We agreed that Greece will lead this one while Cyprus leads
the PCI regarding the electricity interconnector," he said.
The highest-profile non-Russian gas project is one to ship
Azeri natural gas from the Shah Deniz field, which has become a
contest between the Nabucco West project into Austria, led by
OMV and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline into Italy, led by
Switzerland's AXPO and Statoil.
(Reporting by Karolina Tagaris, additional reporting by Michele
Kambas; Editing by Louise Heavens and Mark Potter)