February 9, 2016
The European Union has been reducing its dependence on Russian gas since the Kremlin’s seizure of Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine.
Norway has been producing more gas for the EU, and supplies of liquefied natural gas have begun arriving by ship in the Baltics.
In addition, an effort is under way to build a pipeline to supply gas from Azerbaijan to Turkey, and — through a Turkey-Greece link from that pipeline — the rest of Europe.
Two new developments in the Middle East could give the EU additional alternatives to Russian gas.
One is Israel’s plan to build a pipeline to supply gas from its Mediterranean Sea deposits to Cyprus, and discussions that could lead to the construction of pipelines that transport Israeli gas to Turkey and Greece.
Another development is an EU rush to obtain Iranian gas in the wake of United Nations sanctions being lifted against Iran in late January of 2016.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has already visited Europe to lay the groundwork for deals.
A group of European petroleum experts is scheduled to visit Iran any day to keep the momentum going.
Oil and gas-rich Iran was unable to make nearly as much petroleum-export revenue as it wanted under the sanctions, and is eager to make up for lost sales.
The sanctions were imposed in 2006 because Iran refused to promise not to build nuclear weapons. A deal in 2015 that commits it to forego nuclear arms led to the sanctions being lifted.Author : Ukraine Expert