Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer is currently on a visit to Israel to discuss security, energy cooperation, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and sign a strategic partnership treaty. As the European Union has been scrambling to secure its energy supply before searching for replacements for Russian gas, the bloc’s leaders have turned towards Israel, and its potential goldmine of gas reserves.
According to local reports, Austria is “highly interested” in the discovery of new gas reserves off the coast of Israel, which Mr Nehammer believes could help Europe end its reliance on Russian gas.
He said: “Israel is a particularly important partner and friend of Austria. We, therefore, want to further deepen our close relations at all levels,”
“The large gas discoveries off the coast make it possible for Israel to supply itself. And Israel can also export.”
Over a month ago, Israel announced that it would resume offshore natural gas exploration, after which it signed a deal with the EU and Egypt to provide the fuel-starved bloc with gas supplies.
The EU is heavily dependent on Russian oil and gas exports, relying on Moscow for about 40 percent of its energy imports in 2021.
According to Israel’s Energy Ministry, a deal with the EU will for the first time allow “significant” exports of Israeli gas to Europe.
The gas that is transported from Israel, will be sent to liquefaction plants in Egypt, after which it will be shipped north to Europe.
This deal is a far cry from Israel’s relationship with Russia in 2016, where during a meeting with then Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Putin described Israel and Russia as “unconditional allies”.
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