Yemen Urges Int’l Pressure to Curb Potential Oil Spill in Red Sea

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Yemen Urges Int’l Pressure to Curb Potential Oil Spill in Red Sea

Wednesday, 26 June, 2019 – 08:45
A ship carrying a shipment of grain is docked at the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, Yemen August 5, 2018. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad
Aden – Riyadh – Asharq Al-Awsat
The Yemeni government renewed calls on the United Nations to pressure Houthi militias into allowing international teams to prevent the breakout of a potentially disastrous oil spill at the Safir offshore oil platform, which floats off Hodeidah’s northern coast.

In an address to the UN Secretary General, Yemeni Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdullah al-Hadrami stressed the need to get Houthis to grant the international body’s probing technicians access to Safir.

The facility contains more than one million barrels of crude oil pumped before Houthis staged a nationwide coup four years ago. The Iran-backed insurgents refuse allowing the internationally-recognized government from exporting that oil, and threaten blowing up the naval facility if they are not allowed to sell the oil reserves themselves.

Any explosion at Safir will cause a catastrophic oil spill with irreversible environmental damage.

Apart from Houthi threats of attack, Hadrami warned against the  Houthis’ continued blocking of assessment teams from examining the reservoir, which he said was in a corrosive condition that could lead up to a shocking environmental disaster that would contaminate Red Sea and regional waters.

Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, President of the Revolutionary Council, a body formed by the militants, had tabled an offer previously to sell the oil reserves stored in Safir and have the freely-elected government and insurgents split revenues.

Hadrami, for his part, stressed the government’s keenness to its long-standing demand for solutions on this particular issue. He underscored that the government has cooperated fully with the UN in this regard and is waiting for experts to evaluate the development of an effective strategy.

The Yemeni deputy foreign minister also placed blame on the militias for causing an environmental disaster in the Red Sea.

According to official sources, Hadrami stressed during a high-level meeting that the Yemeni government was – and still is – very keen on peace, and the full implementation of the UN-brokered peace agreement inked in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, last December.

“The government has made a lot of concessions to this end, despite the continued intransigence of the Houthi militias, their maneuvering to buy time at the expense of suffering Yemenis and the failure of the Swedish agreement,” he said.

Hadrami renewed the government’s condemnation of Houthis’ continued blackmailing of international organizations operating in Yemen and their militias looting of food aid and humanitarian relief.

He also appreciated the efforts and positions undertaken by the World Food Program (WFP) to put an end to such violations.

India may discuss oil issues with Pompeo

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

India may discuss oil issues with Pompeo

During Pompeo’s visit, New Delhi will seek Washington’s cooperation in getting reliable and affordable energy supply, especially after US sanctions that prohibited the import of Iranian crude from May, two government officials said.

INDIA Updated: Jun 25, 2019 05:28 IST

Rajeev Jayaswal
Rajeev Jayaswal
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Mike Pompeo,US secretary
The recent tussle between the US and Iran has further aggravated the situation that could adversely impact major oil consumers such as India, said the officials cited above.(AFP)

India may discuss with US secretary of state Mike Pompeo a host of issues crucial for its energy security, including oil price volatility due to rising tensions between Tehran and Washington, disadvantages in purchasing American crude and technical issues arising due to sanctions that threaten India’s strategic projects, said officials aware of the developments.

During Pompeo’s visit, New Delhi will seek Washington’s cooperation in getting reliable and affordable energy supply, especially after US sanctions that prohibited the import of Iranian crude from May, two government officials said. India, which is a net importer of energy, is a victim of volatility in crude prices that is often caused because of geo-political reasons.

The recent tussle between the US and Iran has further aggravated the situation that could adversely impact major oil consumers such as India, said the officials cited above.

Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan recently spoke to US secretary of energy Rick Perry and raised these issues. During the telephonic conversation, Pradhan emphasised the impact of price volatility on Indian consumers and stressed the important role that the US could play in bringing global price stability, officials said. International crude oil prices soared after Tehran allegedly shot down an American drone on Thursday, which deepened tensions US-Iran tensions.

Traditionally, Iran has been a major crude oil supplier for India to meet almost 10% of its annual requirements. India, which has already stopped purchasing Iranian crude due to the sanction, is facing problems in meeting the shortfall. “We are yet to get suitable alternative. Iranian crude is not only of good quality but also cheaper as Tehran always supplied crude on lucrative commercial terms,” said one of the officials quoted above. Unhindered crude oil imports on economic terms are crucial for India’s energy security as it imports more than 80% crude it processes.

Rajnish Gupta, EY India associate partner (tax and economic policy group), said, “Threat of reduction in supply of crude oil from any significant producer of oil will tighten the markets and is likely to cause price volatility, as it happened last week…any reduction in supplies from any country needs to be made up by increased production elsewhere. Increase in production or change in source requires time. Therefore from India’s perspective, a transition period is required.”

The other issue that is expected to be discussed is the possibility of crude oil supply from the US as an alternative to Iranian crude, the officials said.

India’s state-run and private refiners said no government could force them to buy oil from the US on terms that are uneconomical. “Each crude or shale oil have different assay, based on that refiners extract value. One would buy crude oil or shale oil depending on the value one would get. It is purely commercial consideration,” chief executive of one refinery said.

First Published: Jun 25, 2019 05:25 IST

Oil Tankers Attacked Again in Gulf of Oman, Raising Fears of Wider Conflict

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Oil Tankers Attacked Again in Gulf of Oman, Raising Fears of Wider Conflict

One of the tankers involved in the latest attack, the Front Altair, at a port in Estonia in 2018.

CreditArtjom Lofitski/EPA, via Shutterstock

Image
One of the tankers involved in the latest attack, the Front Altair, at a port in Estonia in 2018.

CreditCreditArtjom Lofitski/EPA, via Shutterstock

LONDON — Oil tankers came under attack on Thursday in the Gulf of Oman, the Iranian news media and a shipping industry official said on Thursday, a month after four tankers were damaged in the same waterway, a vital thoroughfare for much of the world’s oil.

The Iranian state news media reported that multiple tankers had been seriously damaged. A shipping industry official, who was not authorized to speak publicly to the news media, said that at least two tankers had been hit. The nature of the attack was not clear.

“We are aware of the reported attack on tankers in the Gulf of Oman,” the United States Fifth Fleet said in a brief statement. “U.S. Naval Forces in the region received two separate distress calls at 6:12 a.m. local time and a second one at 7 a.m. U.S. Navy ships are in the area and are rendering assistance.”

By The New York Times

An arm of the British Navy, United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, reported that “U.K. and its partners are currently investigating” an incident in the gulf, about 40 miles east of the United Arab Emirates port of Fujairah, but offered no details.

Oil prices spiked early Thursday on the news.

In the region, Iran, on the northern side of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, has long been at odds with its adversaries and neighbors to the south, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. They support opposing sides in the civil war in Yemen.

The attacks in May worsened those tensions, raising concerns that they might lead to a violent clash between regional powers.

One of the tankers involved in the latest attack, M. T. Front Altair, was on fire, and the crew had abandoned ship and been rescued, according to the industry official. The ship, registered in the Marshall Islands, was carrying naphtha, a petroleum product, he said.

He said that contact had been lost with another tanker, the Panamanian-flagged Kokuka Courageous. There were news reports that it, too, was on fire and had been abandoned.

Iraq: Don’t ‘Politicize’ Electricity, Iraq Minister Urges as Summer Nears

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Don’t ‘Politicize’ Electricity, Iraq Minister Urges as Summer Nears

Wednesday, 15 May, 2019 – 10:30
Iraq’s Minister of Electricity Luay al-Khatteeb. (Getty Images)
Asharq Al-Awsat
With temperatures rising on both the weather and security fronts across the region, Iraq’s freshman electricity minister is warning that politicizing his country’s power sector could have ripple effects around the world.

“Electricity is a national security issue,” Luay al-Khateeb told AFP in a wide-ranging interview at the ministry’s headquarters in Baghdad.

“In the end, any political, economic or security crisis in Iraq will affect the whole region — and the global economy will be open to threat.”

“We’re urging for this file not to be politicized.”

Khateeb, a 51-year-old energy expert, was appointed minister in October with a mandate to revamp Iraq’s grid, which was already ailing before it was further crippled by the ISIS group.

But he faces a pair of formidable political challenges to a typically dry, technical portfolio: the threat of renewed protests and escalating US pressure on energy-supplier Iran.

Demonstrations erupted in 2018 across Iraq against poor services, including the measly few hours of state-provided electricity per day.

This summer will be a de facto referendum on the government´s progress.

Khateeb, optimistic, said his ministry had revived out-of-service stations, fixed transmission lines, and brought temporary generators to battered areas including Mosul that ISIS held in the north.

“On October 25, the week I took office, electricity generation sat at between 9.5 to 10 GW. It is now at 15 GW,” Khateeb said.

Most Iraqi provinces, he added, “will receive no less than 20 hours of electricity per day. This, to be honest, is a level of production the country hasn’t seen in years.”

In the medium term, the ministry is developing solar power, gas-capturing capabilities, and energy deals with neighbors.

It signed contracts worth 700 million euro ($785 million) with Germany’s Siemens last month, amid expectations of similar deals with American rival General Electric.

Around a third of Iraq’s electricity relies on Iran, through 28 million cubic meters (990 cubic feet) of gas piped in to feed stations or the direct import of up to 1,300 megawatts of Iranian-produced electricity.

When Washington reimposed sanctions on Iran last year, it granted Iraq temporary exemptions until late June.

Khateeb declined to say what would happen if the waiver was not again extended.

“I’m not in the business of making predictions, but what I ask for from world powers is a little reasonableness so we can live in peace on this planet,” he told AFP.

Tensions have ramped up between Washington and Tehran, with Baghdad often caught in the middle.

Iraqi government sources say the US is pressuring Baghdad to partner with American companies including General Electric, ExxonMobil and Honeywell as it weans off Iranian energy.

Khateeb acknowledged foreign embassies were pushing for their interests in Iraq’s power sector, but said Baghdad would try to steer clear of the politics.

“The truth is we don’t want to be a scapegoat in conflicts that will negatively affect regional security, and in turn the global economy,” he said.

Besides the ticking clocks of the Iraqi street and geopolitical tensions, Khateeb admitted pressure from within the government itself.

He said he had “inherited a bureaucracy” and was often asked for favors or employment opportunities.

Asked whether he, like Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, kept his resignation letter close at hand, Khateeb sounded determined.

“One needs to have a thick skin,” he said.

“Either I focus on the politicians, or I focus on the work.”

India: Decision on oil purchase after Lok sabha polls, India tells Iran

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Decision on oil purchase after Lok sabha polls, India tells Iran

The US decision to end exemptions to sanctions on Iranian oil imports on May 2 has hit India.

BUSINESS Updated: May 14, 2019 23:46 IST

Rezaul H Laskar
Rezaul H Laskar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Tehran was among New Delhi’s top three energy suppliers, providing 23.6 million tonnes of oil last year, or about 10% of the country’s energy needs.

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj informed her Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif on Tuesday that a decision on purchasing Iranian oil in the face of US sanctions will be made after the conclusion of India’s general election, people familiar with developments said.

Iranian oil exports and Tehran’s approach to recent developments in the region, including tensions between Iran and the US over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or the Iranian nuclear deal, figured in the discussions between Zarif and Swaraj.

Zarif arrived in New Delhi late on Monday for a previously unscheduled visit to lobby for India’s support against the backdrop of the Iran-US tensions. He last visited India in January, and the current trip was organised at short notice at Zarif’s request, the people cited above said.

When Zarif raised the purchase of oil from Iran, Swaraj reiterated India’s position that a decision will be made after the general elections while keeping in mind the country’s “commercial considerations, energy security and economic interests”, the people said.

The US decision to end exemptions to sanctions on Iranian oil imports on May 2 has hit India. Tehran was among New Delhi’s top three energy suppliers, providing 23.6 million tonnes of oil last year, or about 10% of the country’s energy needs.

The sanctions were imposed after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

Zarif briefed the Indian side on Iran’s approach to developments in the region, including on JCPOA, and also reviewed bilateral cooperation.

The outreach to India, he explained, was part of Iran’s consultations with key countries, including Russia, China, Turkmenistan and Iraq, over the past few days.

The impact of the sanctions on Iranian oil exports, the country’s main revenue earner, prompted Tehran to threaten last week that it would roll back its compliance with the nuclear deal.

Zarif referred to President Hassan Rouhani’s announcement on May 8 about Iran keeping larger amounts of enriched uranium and heavy water, instead of exporting the excess as required under the JCPOA. He also mentioned the 60-day timeline given to the EU3 (France, Germany, the UK) and other parties to the JCPOA (China and Russia) for restoring oil exports and banking channels.

The Indian side, the people said, reiterated its position that New Delhi would like all parties to the JCPOA to continue to fulfil their commitments and engage constructively and resolve issues peacefully through dialogue.

Both sides expressed satisfaction at the operationalisation of an interim contract between India Ports Global Limited (IPGL) and Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO) for the development Chabahar port. They also discussed Afghanistan and agreed to “maintain close coordination on the evolving situation”, the people said.

First Published: May 14, 2019 22:32 IST

China’s energy consumption structure continues to optimize: report

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CHINA’S SHINE NEWS NETWORK)

 

China’s energy consumption structure continues to optimize: report

Xinhua

China saw an optimized energy consumption structure last year with an increase of clean energy, an industry report showed.

Consumption of clean energy, including natural gas, hydropower, nuclear power and wind power, accounted for 22.1 percent of energy consumed last year, up 1.3 percentage points from 2017, China Electric Power Planning & Engineering Institute said in a report.

Coal consumption accounted for 59 percent of the total energy consumption in 2018, down 1.4 percentage points year on year, according to the report.

Total energy consumption reached 4.64 billion tonnes of standard coal, a year-on-year growth of 3.3 percent, the fastest growth since 2014, the report said.

The report also predicted that China’s energy consumption will continue the clean and efficient trend in 2019.

Jordan Reviews Gas Agreement With Israel

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Jordan Reviews Gas Agreement with Israel

Tuesday, 30 April, 2019 – 08:00
Jordan’s King Abdullah II. (Reuters)
Amman – Mohammed Kheir al-Rawashida
King Abdullah II has officially ordered the revision of the terms of the gas agreement with Israel, in a technical report that examines Jordan’s interests from the continuation or the freezing of the agreement, senior Jordanian political sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The signing of the gas agreement between Jordan National Electricity Company and the US Noble Energy for the transfer of Israeli gas has sparked a wide internal debate in the past months, after popular movements organized a series of events denouncing economic normalization with Israel.

The government said it is obliged to comply with the agreement, under a penalty clause of one billion dollars.

It added that the project was in progress and some gas pipelines are already installed in a number of northern villages adjacent to the border with the occupied Palestinian territories.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, Khaled Bakkar, the head of the finance committee in the Jordanian parliament, said that the deal, in addition to being “blatant normalization” with Israel, is “economically weak” based on the feasibility studies.

He stressed that Jordan’s energy production surpassed the country’s needs, noting that the import of Israeli gas, through Jordan, was only for the benefit of Israel.

South Korea Hunting For Iran Oil Replacement

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

South Korea Hunting for Iran Oil Replacement

Friday, 26 April, 2019 – 10:30
FILE PHOTO: South Korea’s top refiner SK Energy’s main factory is seen in Ulsan, about 410 km (256 miles) southeast of Seoul, February 25, 2009. REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak/File Photo
Asharq Al-Awsat
South Korea is looking for a replacement for Tehran’s oil which it will no longer have access to after May, now that the United States intends to tighten sanctions on Iranian exports. The country is the biggest buyer of Iran’s condensate.

SK Incheon Petrochem Co Ltd, Hyundai Oilbank Corp and Hanwha Total Petrochemical are set to once again scan the world for alternative, but more expensive, condensate supplies and snap up heavy naphtha oil products for their processing units, known as splitters, industry sources and analysts said.

In 2018 South Korea bought and tested up to 23 different types of condensate from 15 countries as a potential substitutes for Iranian condensate, at a cost of about $9 billion, government and trade data analysed by Thomson Reuters showed.

This year South Korean refiners did not have to look hard as they made full use of the Iranian oil volumes allowed under the US waivers by importing only Iranian condensate. However, those waivers will expire on the 1st of May.

The country is set to import about 249,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Iranian South Pars condensate by the end of April, 70 percent of the total volume of condensate it imported last year, the data showed, much more than it needs in the first half of 2019.

The country’s condensate demand has also fallen in the first half of this year as refiners cut runs at splitters on poor naphtha margins and as Hanwha Total shut a splitter for maintenance, the sources said, according to Reuters.

SK and Hanwha Total may replace condensates by buying more heavy naphtha, a raw material for petrochemicals. Low naphtha prices could help repeat a spike in imports that happened in late 2018.

Hanwha Total, which operates two condensate splitters, last year raised its monthly average imports of heavy naphtha to 400,000 tonnes from 250,000 tonnes in the absence of Iranian condensate.

The confidential oil plan that could cost Trump reelection

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF POLITICO NEWS)

 

ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT

The confidential oil plan that could cost Trump reelection

The Trump administration is considering auctioning off Florida’s coastal waters for oil and gas drilling — and Republicans are warning it could cost the president dearly in Florida in the 2020 election.

An industry lobbying offensive has put it on the cusp of achieving its holy grail: access to the resource-rich eastern Gulf of Mexico. The idea is so politically toxic in Florida that past presidents haven’t even entertained it. But behind the scenes, oil and gas interests are appealing to Trump’s desire to turbocharge U.S. energy production, including his past openness to drilling off the Florida coast.

The president and his top advisers haven’t yet weighed in on the plan taking shape inside his Interior Department. But giving it the green light would be tantamount to a declaration of war on his second home state, given the uniform opposition from Florida Republicans, including prominent allies like Sen. Rick Scott, Gov. Ron DeSantis and others.

“He would have a price to pay for that,” Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), a staunch Trump supporter, told POLITICO.

Industry representatives have said a plan has been imminent since last fall, but many expect the Interior Department is waiting for the Senate to confirm acting Secretary David Bernhardt to fill the agency’s top slot before formally releasing the draft. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed cloture Monday on Bernhardt’s confirmation, teeing up a vote this week.

Multiple oil and gas industry sources told POLITICO that the eastern Gulf, along with the Atlantic coast, are included in the administration’s current five-year off-shore drilling proposal, which hasn’t yet been released. The deliberations surrounding that plan are occurring mostly at Interior between lower-level policy aides who are being lobbied by industry representatives, they said.

The administration’s position was muddied when former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke held an elaborately staged Jan. 2018 meeting with Scott, then Florida’s governor, to declare the state wouldn’t be on the drilling map. The announcement was seen as a favor to boost Scott’s electoral fortunes in his ultimately successful challenge against Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson, who tried to use environmental issues to separate himself from the Republican challenger.

In reality, Trump was upset by the announcement. People familiar with his reaction said Zinke’s statement came without White House approval and contradicted the administration’s “energy dominance” message.

Both parties in Florida oppose offshore drilling. Memories of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which sent tarballs ashore in Florida, bring fears of a future spill damaging the state’s fisheries and tourism. Many in the state also say drilling would conflict with military exercises in the area.

Bernhardt has stayed mum about what’s in the offshore leasing proposal, remarking in a March 28 confirmation hearing that the department is at “step one” of the process. Several industry sources disputed that, though, saying the plan is nearly complete.

“For all intents and purposes, it’s done,” said an industry lobbyist familiar with the plan.

But the senior political officials charged with protecting Trump’s electoral prospects haven’t yet focused on the drilling plan, said a source close to the president who met recently with members of Trump’s energy policy team.

The White House referred a request for comment to the Interior Department. An agency spokesperson did not immediately reply to questions about whether the eastern Gulf of Mexico would be included in any draft plan. Bernhardt said at his nomination hearing that the latest draft plan hadn’t reached his desk.

Offshore drilling is broadly unpopular in Florida. A Quinnipiac University poll of Florida voters released March 13 showed 64 percent oppose the practice. Republicans, though, supported it by a 54-38 percent margin. A ballot measure banning oil and gas development in state waters passed overwhelmingly in November.

“I’m going to do everything I can to make sure Florida remains off the table,” Scott told POLITICO in an interview earlier this month. “I’ve been very clear to let the White House know where I stand. This is very important to me.“

The draft plan from Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management would have to go through a comment period, giving the Trump administration another chance to rewrite it before finalizing. It does not need to pass Congress.

The current plan includes a “buffer” to keep rigs at least 100 miles from Florida’s shoreline, according to industry representatives. They said they plan to present Trump with several options for each of the major regions to be covered under the plan, including the mid-Atlantic and Pacific.

“They can put the plan out and if it doesn’t go over very well, this isn’t the final version, so they can just pull it back,” said an oil-and-gas industry source, who added that industry is trying to figure out how close it can get to Florida without inviting backlash. Former President Barack Obama, for example, offered the eastern Gulf of Mexico with a 125-mile buffer before implementing a seven-year ban following the Deepwater Horizon disaster, though Congress already had imposed a moratorium on drilling in waters closest to Florida until 2022.

Florida lawmakers from both parties have signed numerous letters rejecting offshore drilling, no matter how far from the state’s shoreline. Many also have pushed back on what’s known as seismic testing, a precursor to drilling that involves blasting sonar from boats toward the seafloor to search for buried oil and gas deposits. Both chambers of the state legislature are moving resolutions rejecting offshore drilling in the Gulf.

“We don’t want to see any of it in the Gulf, I don’t want to see any of it on the Atlantic side, which is where I represent,” Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.) told POLITICO. “We’re not looking for Deepwater Horizons off of Jensen Beach, Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale Beach, Fort Pierce Beach, and we don’t want to see it out there in the Gulf.”

Even DeSantis, whom Trump endorsed in a crowded Republican primary last year, signed an executive order in January committing the state’s Department of Environmental Protection to “adamantly oppose” offshore drilling. Pressure on Republicans to oppose drilling has only grown since DeSantis was elected in November, as Democrats have homed in on fighting climate change.

“It seems hard to believe that the administration would move forward with drilling off the coast of Florida less than two years before a presidential election,” said Alex Conant, a partner at Firehouse Strategies and former aide to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). “It would certainly be an issue that Democrats would try to use against [Trump] throughout the state.”

Israel, Cyprus, Greek ‘Cooperate from Firefighting to Energy’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Israel, Cyprus, Greek ‘Cooperate from Firefighting to Energy’

Friday, 22 March, 2019 – 09:30
Israeli PM Netanyahu sits with US Secretary of State Pompeo, Greek PM Tsipras and Cypriot President Anastasiades during their meeting in Jerusalem. (Reuters)
Tel Aviv – Nazir Magally
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described cooperation with Greece and Cyprus, under the supervision and encouragement of the US, as the best and strongest regional association in the world.

He made his comment following a summit he hosted in Jerusalem on Thursday with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“This is the sixth summit meeting between Israel, Cyprus and Greece. We began this a few years ago, and it’s blossomed into one of the best regional associations in the world,” said Netanyahu.

He added: “We cooperate in everything, from firefighting and now to energy.”

“We are planning to lay down a pipeline called the East-Med Pipeline, from Israel, through Cyprus, through Greece, to Europe, something that will benefit our economies greatly, provide stability for the region and prosperity to our peoples, but also we think would diversify the energy supplies to Europe,” said Netanyahu.

A source close to Israeli PM said that the summit unveiled a leap in military cooperation among the three countries, to the extent of establishing a joint supervision body in the Mediterranean Sea to protect gas wells.

Anastasiades affirmed Cyprus’ “commitment to promoting peace, stability, security and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean region.”

“Revisionist powers, like Iran and Russia and China, are all trying to take major footholds in the East and the West. We view the United States, Israel, Cyprus and Greece as great key partners in security and prosperity,” said Pompeo.

In 2015, Israel participated in wide-range military exercises in Greece, including a training against a Russian-supplied S-300 anti-missile system.

European countries signed with Israel in 2017 the joint declaration to enhance the work aimed at extending the sea line to transport Israeli gas to Europe within the next eight years.

The 2,000-kilometer underwater pipeline is intended to have a capacity of 12 billion cubic meters of gas annually. The project includes the construction of a 1,300 km long submarine pipeline from the East Mediterranean gas field to southern Greece, as well as a 600 km long pipeline to western Greece, linking existing pipelines to transport gas to Italy and other EU countries.