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Italian energy giant ENI eyes transporting Israeli gas to Cyprus

Executives of the Italian energy giant told Energy Minister Silvan Shalom that the company wants to enter the Israeli market.

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/By Amiram Barkat / 

Sources inform ”Globes” that that Italian energy giant ENI SpA (BIT: ENI; NYSE: E) wants to transport compressed Israeli gas to Cyprus. ENI executives told Minister Energy and Water Resources Silvan Shalom that the company wants to enter the Israeli market, belying reports that it was worried about jeopardizing its relations in the Arab world.

On Sunday, Shalom left for a four-day visit to Italy at the request of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who could not make the trip because of regional security tensions. Shalom will meet Italian political leaders, following today’s meetings with energy executives.

The executives are following the upcoming High Court of Justice hearing on petitions against the government decision to allow gas exports, and they are interested in Israeli plans to export gas to neighbors, such as Turkey and Cyprus. Shalom said that Israel would export gas no matter what, even if the High Court of Justice rules in favor of the petitions.

Executives of Edison SpA (BIT: EDN), which owns 20% of the rights to the Neta and Roy licenses, wanted to know whether it would receive rights to the Keren and Avia licenses, which recently reverted to the state. Giuseppe Bono, the CEO of Fincantieri – Cantieri Navali Italiani SpA, a builder of rigs and gas production and pumping facilities, expressed an interest in building rigs for the Israeli market.

ENI also has oil and gas exploration licenses in Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone, and is bidding for Lebanese licenses. It has frequently been mentioned as a buyer of more Israeli oil and gas exploration licenses and other assets, but it has refrained from the Israeli market out of concern about its investments in Libya, Tunisia, and other Arab countries. ENI executives told Shalom that the company would be happy to build gas compression infrastructures to export gas to energy-starved Cyprus, which has the highest electricity prices in the EU.

Industry experts estimate that Israel could sell compressed natural gas to Cyprus at $10 per million British Thermal Units.
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