Cyprus and Israel are in talks over the construction of a pipeline linking their offshore gas fields, Cyprus's energy minister said on Monday.
But George Papanastasiou appeared to play down prospects for an "EastMed" pipeline taking eastern Mediterranean gas to continental Europe, saying a shipping corridor could be set up instead from a hub in Cyprus to transport liquefied gas.
"Our objective is low-cost electricity production ... so natural gas should come from the area," Papanastasiou told journalists after briefing an opposition party on the energy plans of the new administration, elected in February.
Papanastasiou, who held senior posts in the oil and gas industry before his ministerial appointment this year, said Cyprus would host a workshop with industry stakeholders on May 29. He said a liquefaction plant could take about 2.5 years to build, and a pipeline with Israel about 18 months.
Plans for a 2,000-kilometre (1,243-mile) pipeline to take eastern Mediterranean gas to Europe have been under discussion for about a decade, and the project could potentially be part-funded by the European Union.
However, there was a setback in early 2022, when the U.S. pulled its previous support, saying it was too expensive and would take too long to build.
"It will be a corridor, that will exist. Instead of a pipeline it will be a connection between Israel and Europe which can be done through Cyprus," Papanastasiou said.
"It could be a virtual pipeline which would link through Cyprus to the rest of Europe in liquefied form," he added, saying liquefied gas could be dispatched from Cyprus to any markets, including Asia.
(Reuters - Reporting by Michele Kambas/Editing by Mark Potter)