The European Union is negotiating a gas supply agreement with Egypt and Israel, according to internal documents dated June 7 and seen by EUobserver.
A draft memorandum of understanding with the two countries, still subject to amendments, is part of its efforts to reduce its reliance on Russian fossil fuels in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Security of gas supply is a major common concern. Egypt and the EU will work together towards the stable delivery of gas to the EU,” reads another internal document mentioning the collaboration agreement. trilateral.
The proposed agreement emphasizes that natural gas will be shipped to the EU from Egypt, Israel or any other source in the Eastern Mediterranean region, including EU member states in the region.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is due to visit Cairo next week, but it is currently unclear whether the memorandum will be signed during her visit.
Egypt has increasingly become a regional gas hub, with its two liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. But Israel has also become a major regional gas supplier in recent years.
According to the draft agreement, imports from Israel would require the gas to be processed in Egyptian liquefaction plants before being shipped to Europe as LNG.
This is partly because there is no infrastructure connecting Israel to Europe while five billion cubic meters of Israeli gas is exported to Egypt every year.
Nevertheless, the trilateral agreement would allow Egypt to buy some of the gas transported to the EU and other countries through Egyptian territory for its own consumption or export.
The agreement will explore the need to develop new energy infrastructure projects based on fossil fuels and ways to encourage European companies to invest in the exploration and production of natural gas in Israel and Egypt.
But the memorandum of understanding, which would last for nine years after it was signed, will not create any legal or financial obligations for the EU, the draft says.
Climate policies and promises?
The agreement also includes measures to reduce methane leaks and promote hydrogen production for industrial processes, transport and energy storage in the years to come.
But campaigners have raised concerns about the negative impact these new deals may have on the environment – and what they mean for EU climate policies in the long term.
As the EU pledges to cut its Russian gas imports by two-thirds this year and phase out its energy trade with Moscow by 2027, the bloc wants to diversify its energy supplies and import 10 million tonnes of hydrogen renewable by the end of the decade. .
Besides Egypt, other countries like Azerbaijan are seen as a potential alternative source for EU imports, with Russia’s stocks accounting for around 40% of all its gas imports.
The EU has agreed to a coal and oil embargo in its previous sanctions packages against Russia, without directly affecting gas imports.
Yet Russia cut off supplies to several member states for refusing to pay for gas in roubles, including Poland, Bulgaria, Finland and the Netherlands.
In total, the EU has paid nearly 26 billion euros to Russia for its gas imports since the invasion of Ukraine in late February, according to the Center for Energy and Clean Air Research.
During Von der Leyen’s visit to Cairo next week, the EU and Egypt are expected to agree to step up their efforts for the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency.
“The highly favorable endowment of renewable energy sources offers Egypt the opportunity to become a regional hub for the production and export of renewable and low-carbon energy,” reads a draft. joint statement.
Egypt, which is the host country of the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Egypt (COP27) in November, has yet to join the Global Commitment on Methane which aims to rapidly reduce emissions of methane that kill the climate.