Turkey And Israel Hold First Meeting For Pipeline Project

Turkey and Israel held their first working-level dialogue last week in Istanbul to discuss a proposed natural gas pipeline project between the two countries, according to Israeli diplomatic sources on Tuesday, reported Yeni Şafak .

Professional teams from Israel and Turkey began discussions on the technical details for building a natural gas pipeline from Israel to Turkey last week, Israel’s Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources, Yuval Steinitz, was quoted as saying by Israeli daily financial newspaper Globes.

Turkish and Israeli companies are discussing a possible gas pipeline to be built between Israel and Turkey in order to transport natural gas supplies to Europe from the Leviathan gas field in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Israel. The field holds an estimated 620 billion cubic meters of gas.

Israel’s Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources, Yuval Steinitz paid a visit to Istanbul on the sidelines of 23rd World Energy Congress in October, marking the first official ministerial level meeting between the two countries in the past six years since the normalization of bilateral relations.

Steinitz held a bilateral meeting with Turkey’s Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak and they announced their agreement to enter talks in the coming months to discuss the project.

“What we decided is to establish immediately a dialogue between our two governments and between our two energy companies to examine the possibility of such a project that will enable us to bring natural gas from Israeli economic waters into Turkey and from Turkey to Europe,” Steinitz explained during a press conference after the meeting.

“We are going to engage in a specific detailed dialogue between our two governments in the next coming months,” he said.

Diplomatic ties between Turkey and Israel were disrupted in May 2010 when Israeli commandos martyred 10 Turkish activists on a humanitarian aid ship, the Mavi Marmara, heading for Gaza.

Turkey demanded a number of conditions — an apology, the payment of compensation and the lifting of Israel’s Gaza blockade — be fulfilled before the return of normal relations. Ankara now considers these terms fulfilled.

In a speech at a conference on transport, infrastructure and real estate held by the M. Firon & Co. law firm and Ernst & Young Israel in Ramat Gan today, Steinitz said that Israel’s natural gas industry would progress on four planes. The first, he said, was the start of development of the Leviathan reservoir, involving detailed planning, tenders for suppliers, and approval by the National Planning and Building Council of the plan for development of the fields and for constructing platforms for treating the gas at sea, according to Globes.