On December 5, Greece, Cyprus, Italy and Israel signed a memorandum of understanding for constructing an underwater gas pipeline from the Eastern Mediterranean region to Greece and Italy, which will allow the transportation of newly discovered Cypriot and Israeli gas reserves to mainland Europe.

At an energy summit in Nicosia, Cyprus’ Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis and his Greek and Israeli counterparts Giorgos Stathakis and Yuval Steinitz as well Italian ambassador in Cyprus Andrea Cvallari, who represented Italy’s Energy Minister Carlo Calenda, signed the document for the promotion of the East Med pipeline in Cyprus on December 5.

According to a press release from Greece’s Environment and Energy, Stathakis said the signing of the memorandum is “an important step towards the maturity of the project”.

During the press conference, Greece’s Energy Minister reiterated Greece’s strong support for the planning of the East Med pipeline from the beginning, as it is a project of strategic importance for Europe. Stathakis expressed his satisfaction that East Med also enjoys the support of all the other countries involved as well as the European Commission.

Stathakis said that the East Med pipeline is “technically and economically viable” and would allow Israel and Cyprus to transport their proven hydrocarbon reserves as well as Greece’s potential reserves to the European market.

The Greek Energy Minister also noted that the project would benefit not only the countries involved with the creation of a gas corridor for all the East Mediterranean hydrocarbon producers but would also benefit the gas consumers.

Finally, Stathakis expressed his satisfaction for the progress achieved based on the agreed timeline.

For his part, Steinitz was quoted as saying that the East Med pipeline is “very realistic” and could help secure Europe’s energy future.

EastMed will connect Israel’s Leviathan and Cyprus’ Aphrodite gas fields to Greece and Italy. The initial estimate of the cost of the pipeline, which will be able to transport 12-16 billion cubic metres of gas per year, is around $6 billion.

The next step will be the signing of an intergovernmental agreement in Crete in the spring of 2018.