EastMed-Poseidon Pipeline


Israel, Cyprus, Greece, Italy

Project risks:

Environmental Destruction, Social Harm


  • Edison SpA
  • DEPA International Projects SA
  • IGI Poseidon SA

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Approximate location. The EastMed-Poseidon pipeline will run from the Eastern Mediterranean via Crete and Greece and on to Italy.

One of Europe’s largest pipeline projects is a geopolitical and environmental troublemaker. The proposed EastMed-Poseidon pipeline would cross a geopolitical minefield and bust European climate targets. It could trigger military conflicts and threaten the underwater life of the Mediterranean Sea. Palestinian and North Cypriot communities in particular would lose out on the benefits that fossil companies and governments would reap.

Too Long, Too Deep and Too Risky
DEPA and Edison, the proponents of the EastMed-Poseidon project, want to pump gas from the Eastern Mediterranean Sea into the heart of Europe. Their pipeline project consists of two parts. The gas would first flow through the EastMed pipeline from Israeli offshore gas fields via Cypriot and Greek waters to reach the Greek mainland.[1] From Greece, the Poseidon pipeline would again take the gas offshore towards the Italian coast. From there, it would flow on into Europe. Along this route, DEPA and Edison hope to transport 10 billion cubic meters of fossil gas every year.15131 To develop the project, the two companies have established the Joint Venture IGI Poseidon. Although it is not yet clear whether their pipeline project will go ahead, they are already talking about doubling the pipeline’s capacity in the future.[2]

If EastMed-Poseidon goes online, it would become one of the longest gas pipelines in Europe and one of the deepest subsea pipelines in the world.15151 It would take more than 17 hours at 120 km/h (75mph) to drive the pipeline's total length of 2,110 km (13,117 mi).[5] The 1,350 km (839 mi)-long offshore section of the EastMed pipeline between Israel and Greece would reach as deep as 3,000 meters (9842 ft).[6] With a EUR 5.98 billion price tag, the EastMed pipeline alone could quickly become one of the most expensive pipelines in the European Union (EU).[7] It is not yet clear who would be willing to finance the costly project.1242515133

A Geopolitical Minefield
The EastMed pipeline would pass right through a geopolitical minefield in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. After the failure of Nord Stream 2, the EU is running towards the next geopolitical hornet’s nest. While Israel, Cyprus and Greece passionately promote EastMed, their maritime neighbor Turkey opposes the project.[9] The Turkish government does not want competition for the Southern Gas Corridor, which runs from Azerbaijan through Turkey to Europe.[10]

Since the 1970s, Turkey, Greece and Cyprus have been in conflict over their maritime borders.[11][12] In 2019, Turkey and Libya tried to redraw the borders in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.[13] The Turkish government said that it wanted to protect its rights and waters.  Effectively, the 2 countries created a geopolitical barrier in the middle of the proposed path of the EastMed pipeline.[14] Greece and Cyprus do not recognize the boundaries drawn up by Libya and Turkey.[15] Still, they do not know how the Turkish government would react if they decide to ignore Turkey’s claims and push the project forward.

Oil and gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean have only worsened the conflicts between Turkey and its neighbors.[16] Whenever research vessels or drilling ships enter disputed waters, military warships follow to protect them.[17][18] In August 2020, aggressions peaked when a Turkish research ship searched for oil and gas in disputed waters.  When the Greek military tried to block their way, a Greek and a Turkish warship collided.[19] No one knows when the situation might escalate again. NGOs from the respective countries doubt that EastMed could bring peace to this geopolitically tense region, as some politicians claim.[20] The StopEastMed campaign argues that the pipeline and further gas expansion will heat up the conflict in the Eastern Mediterranean even more.[21][22]

The EastMed-Poseidon pipeline would cross the disputed waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The section between Greece and Italy is the offshore section of the Poseidon pipeline. Credit: Global Witness

“In the Mediterranean, all the coastal states, and some major powers, are saber rattling over fossil fuel reserves under the sea. These dangerous rivalries threaten the safety of all the peoples of our countries […] We say no to new fossil fuel exploration and development of reserves! We say no to conflict between our countries! We say yes to climate justice and to peace!”

Petition to end the fossil fuel race in the Eastern Mediterranean signed by more than 60 organizations from Turkey, Greece and Cyprus.[23]

Levantine Gas for Europe
The gas for the EastMed-Poseidon pipeline would come from the Levantine Basin.15149 This deep marine basin holds an enormous amount of fossil fuels.[24] It lies in the Mediterranean Sea between Cyprus, Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian territories. Since the early 2000s, fossil gas companies have become increasingly eager to explore and drill for new gas in the Levantine Basin.[27] The European energy crisis is giving their expansion plans new impetus.[28] For them, Europe's hunger for fossil gas is an exciting opportunity to search for and produce even more Levantine gas.[30] But even they doubt the financial viability of the EastMed-Poseidon pipeline project.15135

At the moment, the only gas producer in the Levantine Basin that has formally committed to the EastMed-Poseidon pipeline is a company that faces accusations of conducting business within legal grey zones. The gas producer Energean has signed a contract to supply the EastMed-Poseidon pipeline with 2 billion cubic meters of gas every year.[31] In 2010, Energean’s co-founders allegedly took advantage of a dubious banking scheme involving the Cypriot bank Laiki. The international organization Global Witness investigated how the bank loans that Energean’s co-founders and others received propped up the dying business of the Laiki Chairman and helped the young company Energean grow.12421 At the same time, these loans potentially contributed to crashing the Cypriot economy.[32] Energean’s involvement further weakens trust in the EastMed-Poseidon project. Chevron, Eni, Shell and the other gas producers of the Levantine Basin have yet to put their signature under the EastMed-Poseidon project.15137 Nevertheless, they most likely stand to benefit if it goes through.[33]15139

A Gas Fortune at the Cost of Local Communities
All along the route of the EastMed Poseidon pipeline, local communities stand to suffer from the project. The Israeli government senses big opportunities from gas production for the EastMed-Poseidon pipeline. Israel used to be completely dependent on energy imports.[34] Now, the country hopes that its gas expansion and pipeline development will turn it into a vital gas supplier in the region.[35]

Israel aims to generate huge profits from a resource that it refuses to share with Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. Although the Israeli government granted Palestinians access to a 37 km strip (20 mi) off the coast of the occupied Gaza strip, Palestinians have no say over the gas resources located there.[36] Israeli authorities and the military control the waters and gas fields.[37] The fossil fuel money would not benefit Palestinians, who have been losing out on Israel’s gas ambitions and continue to suffer under Israeli occupation.[38]

In Cyprus, the peace between the Turkish-Cypriot communities in the north and the Greek-Cypriot communities in the south is fragile. If the pipeline reignites military tensions between Cyprus and Turkey, the people of Cyprus will bear the cost of militarization.[39] In Italy, the Poseidon pipeline will run ashore in Otranto, only around 20 km (12 mi) from the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), the final section of the Southern Gas Corridor.[40] Many people living in the area have received fines and faced immense legal costs for resisting TAP.[41] The Poseidon pipeline would deal them yet another blow.

A fence blocks access to a construction site in Otranto, Italy. The EastMed-Poseidon pipeline would be the second major gas pipeline to run ashore in the Lecce region of Italy. Credit: Gianluca Maggiore

Intrusion of A Biodiversity Hotspot
Deep below the waves of the Mediterranean Sea lies a mystic underwater world. Submarine canyons, mud volcanoes and seamounts cover the seafloor.[42] Scientists are still exploring what lives under crushing pressures in this moon-like landscape.[43] Despite its small area, the Mediterranean Sea is home to numerous marine animal and plant species.[44] More than 17,000 marine species live in the Mediterranean Sea.[45] 20 to 30 percent of these are unique to the region.[46] Today, climate change troubles the rare ecosystem.[47] Pollution and global warming threaten to wipe out many of the species that live in this biodiversity hotspot.[48] For DEPA and Edison, these endangered dark and unknown waters are nothing more than a construction site for their EastMed pipeline.

The tiny Bucchic’s Goby is one of the many curious species native to the Eastern Mediterranean. However, humans still know very little about life in the deepest sections of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Credit: Vojce/Shutterstock

Climate Costs
The EastMed-Poseidon pipeline runs counter to the EU’s own climate targets and the global agreement to limit global warming to 1.5°C. The EastMed-Poseidon project would add to Europe’s climate bill, not reduce it - as the Greek company DEPA claims.15143 A 2023 Greenpeace study estimated that total greenhouse gas emissions from the pipeline could amount to as much as 27.7 million tons of CO2eq annually.15145 The report details that the EastMed project alone would make up more than 10% of the carbon budget that remains for the entire EU under its commitment to the Paris 1.5°C limit.15153 As alternatives to the EastMed Poseidon route, EU officials have discussed shipping gas as LNG or transporting it via Egypt.[52] Regardless of how it reaches Europe, increased import of fossil gas will bust EU climate targets.

Despite the climate costs of EastMed-Poseidon, the EU continues to throw its weight behind the pipeline.[53] Like the Southern Gas Corridor, EastMed is among the EU’s favorite fossil gas projects. In 2015, EastMed was announced as a European “Project of Common Interest” (PCI).12431 The PCI status qualifies EastMed for fast-tracked permits and EU funds.12429 So far, the EU has handed out more than EUR 36 million to the project.12433 In April 2022, the European Parliament voted to continue political and financial support for the EastMed project.12435 For this reason, a group of environmental lawyers has launched a lawsuit against the EU Commission for supporting EastMed as one of many fossil gas projects.15161

Not Dead Yet
In January 2022, the United States withdrew its support for the EastMed pipeline.15155 Despite this blow, the plans for the EastMed-Poseidon project live on. Its proponents continue to examine whether the mega pipeline can attract financing.15157 DEPA and Edison are already looking for firms to construct parts of the pipeline project.15159

Many consider the EastMed-Poseidon project half-dead. However, environmental groups won’t stop protesting until all involved companies and governments have truly abandoned it. More than 100 European organisations have urged the EU to stay away from the pipeline.12429 Their message is clear: There is no space for a problem-pipeline like EastMed-Poseidon in Europe.

People from Cyprus to Palestine oppose the EastMed-Poseidon pipeline and other EU-funded gas projects that threaten climate and peace in the Eastern Mediterranean. Credit: Gastivists Network

Groups working on EastMed-Poseidon: Kazma Birak, PENGON (Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network), ReCommon, Green Course, Gastivists, Avli Collective, Friends of the Earth Cyprus, Palestinian BDS National Committee, Global Witness


The total length is made up of the 1900 km EastMed pipeline and the 210 km offshore section of the Poseidon pipeline. https://www.depa.gr/international-infrastructures/?lang=en
European Parliament Briefing, 2020. Turkey: Remodelling the eastern Mediterranean. Conflicting exploration of natural gas reserves. https://www.europarl.europa.eu/thinktank/en/document/EPRS_BRI(2020)652048
Greek and Israeli politicians maintain that East Med will bring peace and stability to the region https://www.trtworld.com/europe/turkey-slams-controversial-eastmed-pipeline-deal-signed-in-athens-32668
Global Witness, 2021. Hot Under The Collar: The EU-backed pipeline depends on a company whose founders participated in a controversial banking scheme that allegedly helped crash Cyprus’s economy. https://www.globalwitness.org/en/campaigns/fossil-gas/hot-collar-eastmed/
Global Witness, 2021. Hot Under The Collar: The EU-backed pipeline depends on a company whose founders participated in a controversial banking scheme that allegedly helped crash Cyprus’s economy. https://www.globalwitness.org/en/campaigns/fossil-gas/hot-collar-eastmed/
Re:Common, Elena Gerebizza, Alessandro Runci: Case Study on East Mediterranean Oil & Gas. https://www.urgewald.org/five-years-lost
SOMO (2017). Beneath troubled waters – Noble Energy’s exploitation of natural gas in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, p. 9: https://www.somo.nl/beneath-troubled-waters/
SOMO (2017). Beneath troubled waters – Noble Energy’s exploitation of natural gas in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, p. 7: https://www.somo.nl/beneath-troubled-waters/
SOMO (2017). Beneath troubled waters – Noble Energy’s exploitation of natural gas in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, p. 9: https://www.somo.nl/beneath-troubled-waters/
International Union for Conservation of Nature, 2008. The Mediterranean: A Biodiversity Hotspot Under Threat. https://www.iucn.org/downloads/the_mediterranean_a_biodiversity_hotspot_under_threat_factsheet_en.pdf