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Israeli minister says interconnection with Gulf grid would boost Mideast energy security

Rooftop life in Tel Aviv. Israel wants closer energy ties with the Gulf. (Reuters)
Rooftop life in Tel Aviv. Israel wants closer energy ties with the Gulf. (Reuters)
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04 Mar 2021 05:03:02 GMT9
04 Mar 2021 05:03:02 GMT9

Sean Cronin

LONDON: The Israeli energy minister has said connecting his country’s electricity grid with other regional economies would boost energy security for the entire Middle East.

Israeli energy minister Yuval Steinitz made the remarks at the CERAWeek virtual gathering of global energy industry leaders on Wednesday, where his counterparts from the UAE and Egypt were also speaking.

“The connection with Egypt and the Emirates and the regional cooperation give us the assurances that we will be able to increase energy security in the future,” he said.

“Just one example, if we will be able to connect our electricity transmission systems between Egypt, Israel, the United Arab Emirates — and maybe through Jordan and Saudi Arabia — and we are also discussing connecting ourselves and this region to Europe through Cyprus and Greece, this would give us better energy security than we ever knew in the past.”

His remarks come as the Middle East energy landscape is being rapidly redrawn as new gas finds in the Eastern Mediterranean spark new rivalries at the same time as former foes reach rapprochement.

“It is a new Middle East — especially in the field of energy,” he said. “The establishment of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum in Cairo is a testimony to the new atmosphere.”

The East Mediterranean Gas Forum, which was formed in 2019, includes Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, Greece, Italy and the Palestinian territories — but not Turkey.

On Wednesday, the Turkish foreign minister said that his country was willing to negotiate with Egypt and sign a deal over maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean.

“Depending on the trajectory of relations, we could negotiate maritime boundaries with Egypt and reach an agreement in the future,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters.

The idea of connecting the electricity grids of some of the region’s major power producers could also reduce redundancy in the grid, said UAE energy minister Suhail Al-Mazrouei.

“It is important that as we as countries talk about reducing emissions we need to talk about reducing redundancy in the systems we have and by doing that we can automatically reduce CO2 emissions,” he said.

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