Developments in recent years during exploration for hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean have been extremely promising and there are clear prospects of a new energy source for the EU. At the same time, the Ministers for Energy of the States concerned (Greece and Cyprus), together with the Israeli Minister for Energy, have repeatedly underlined their commitment to construction of the new EastMed natural gas pipeline, which is already a project of common interest (PCI), with a view to connecting deposits in the Eastern Mediterranean with Greece and, via Greece, with the Central European markets.
In view of the above, will the Commission say:

— How does it consider the deposits in the Eastern Mediterranean will help to diversify the European Union energy supply routes and sources in the medium and long term?
— Of the alternative transit routes for available natural gas reserves for export to the EU, what does it consider to be the added value of the EastMed pipeline and how does the Commission intend to support its construction both politically and financially?
— What is its opinion of the obstructions to further research being caused by the continuing presence of the Turkish exploration ship Barbaros in the exclusive economic zone of an EU Member State, namely Cyprus?
Original language of question: EL

Answer given by Mr Arias Cañete on behalf of the Commission

The discovery and exploration of hydrocarbon deposits in the East Mediterranean region potentially opens up new opportunities that could change the situation in this region geopolitically and economically. However it is too early to assess what gas volumes from the region would reach the European markets and to what extent these will contribute to supply diversification.

The East Med Pipeline is a Project of Common Interest (PCI) on the current list and a candidate project for the updated PCI list, which will be published by the end of 2015. The potential value added of this pipeline would be transporting gas from a new indigenous source and bringing it via a new route, fulfilling the diversification objective of the EU. That said, this can only be confirmed once the exact volumes of gas reserves are established and once technical studies on the exploration potential are completed.

It is recalled that in its 2014 Progress Report on Turkey the Commission stressed the sovereign rights of EU Member States to explore and exploit their natural resources in accordance with the EU acquis and international law, including the United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea.