Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz met this week with his Turkish counterpart, Berat Albayrak, while the two were at the World Energy Congress taking place in Istanbul.
This is the first visit by an Israeli minister to Turkey since 2010, and is seen as another step in resuming diplomatic ties between the two nations.
In another week to ten days, Israel and Turkey are expected to exchange ambassadors as well.
Steinitz and Albayrak, meanwhile, have decided begin to look into the possibility of building an underwater pipeline to carry natural gas from Israel through Turkey and on into Europe.
“Exporting gas to our neighbors in the region or to Europe through different pipelines, this is of course very important, and of course one of the important options is connecting to Europe through a pipeline to Turkey,” Steinitz told reporters. “We discussed other issues of energy cooperation, but this is the most vital … We are ready to engage in the specific detailed dialogue between our two governments in the next coming months,” he said.
The pipeline would be laid along the Mediterranean sea bed, and carry Israeli gas to Turkish consumers, and then continue on to bring product for sale to Europe as well.
Steinitz told reporters at the briefing that it is estimated that the lion’s share of natural gas beneath Israel’s sovereign waters has yet to be discovered, possibly as much as 2,200 billion cubic meters of natural gas.
“This is a lot of gas — much more than we can consume,” he pointed out, adding that the gas fields are under the waters of Israel and Cyprus, and that Israel will require the cooperation of Turkey to take full advantage of the bounty that lies therein.
Albayrak is the son-in-law of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.Hana Levi Julian