(Bloomberg) -- Cyprus is intensifying efforts to build a new natural gas link with Israel in order to export the fuel to Europe from the Eastern Mediterranean.

After previously pledging support to a €9 billion ($9.7 billion) pipeline known as EastMed — which aimed to connect Eastern Mediterranean gas fields to Greece and Italy — Cyprus now wants to focus on a less costly plan, the country’s Energy Minister said.

“We suggest an alternative pipeline to import natural gas from Israel, liquefy that gas in Cyprus and then export it to Europe or anywhere else in the world,” Giorgos Papanastasiou said in an interview in Nicosia. 

Read more: Cyprus Energy Minister Says EastMed Pipeline Only Alive on Paper

Cyprus will hold a two-day workshop in the capital starting Monday that will elaborate on the project. Participants will include oil majors already operating in Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone, such as TotalEnergies SE, Exxon Mobil Corp, Eni SpA and Shell Plc. 

The plan would allow natural gas from Israel and Cyprus’s own offshore finds to be brought in not only for onward export, but also to use a cheaper energy source for power production on the island, Papanastasiou said.

“For Cyprus, what is important is to be supplied with natural gas to reduce energy costs, but for the project to be viable we need to be able to liquefy gas through a modular terminal or FLNG,” Papanastasiou said. 

For Israel, the proposed link “provides the economic benefits of having its gas liquefied in the EU using green energy,” as the planned LNG facility would operate using power from renewable sources, he said. It could also help the countries reach a quicker resolution on a dispute regarding the extent of the Cypriot Aphrodite field and its connection with the neighboring Yishai gas field in Israel’s EEZ. 

While earlier plans for the possible transportation of Cypriot natural gas to LNG plants in Egypt for liquefaction remain an “obvious solution due to the existence of infrastructure,” it’s for “investors to decide which solution they prefer and it doesn’t mean that investors can’t choose both,” Papanastasiou said. 








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