UAE Deal Boosts Israeli Oil Pipeline Secretly Built With Iran

UAE Deal Boosts Israeli Oil Pipeline Secretly Built With Iran

desert oil pipeline that Israel once operated as a secret joint venture with Iran could be a major beneficiary from the Trump-brokered peace deal with the United Arab Emirates. With the UAE formally scrapping the eight-decade Arab boycott of Israel—and other oil-rich Gulf neighbors likely to follow suit—the Jewish state is on the cusp of playing a much bigger role in the region’s energy trade, petroleum politics, and Big Oil investments.

It starts with an under-used but highly strategic pipeline. Stepping cautiously out of the shadows, the Israeli managers of Europe Asia Pipeline Co. (EAPC) say their 158-mile conduit from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea provides both a cheaper alternative to Egypt’s Suez Canal and an option to connect to the Arab pipeline grid that transports oil and gas not just to the region, but to the seaports that supply the world. “It opens a lot of doors and opportunities,” the pipeline company’s CEO, Izik Levi, told Foreign Policy. He reckons that the pipeline, which connects Israel’s southern port of Eilat with a tanker terminal in Ashkelon on the Mediterranean coast, could nip off a significant share of the oil shipments now flowing through the nearby Suez Canal.

While much of the hoopla over the UAE-Israel pact has focused on other sectors such as technology, health care, education, and tourism, the Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline brings the deal into the realm of petroleum, the beating heart of the Persian Gulf economy. Now that the Emiratis have broken the ice, opportunities for Arab-Israeli energy deals are broad and lucrative, ranging from investment in the Israeli pipeline itself, to adapting it for carrying natural gas or connecting it to pipelines across Saudi Arabia and the wider Middle East. “If they’re doing partnerships with Israelis, there’s tremendous potential for all kinds of business,” said Marc Sievers, a former U.S. ambassador to Oman, where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a groundbreaking visit two years ago