LONG a resource-poor country, Israel now has more natural gas than it knows how to use. Even by conservative estimates, the fields discovered off its Mediterranean coast since 2009 hold enough energy to meet domestic needs for 40 years. The government hopes to earn a windfall by selling the excess abroad; the owners of Leviathan, the largest field, have earmarked 9bn cubic meters (bcm) for export each year. Jordan has already signed a deal to buy some. Israel wants to send the rest farther afield—offering it to Europe as an alternative to Russian supplies. But geography and politics make that difficult.
An overland pipeline would have to cross either Lebanon or war-torn Syria, neither of which recognises Israel. The shortest underwater path, to Turkey, is also problematic, because it would pass through Cypriot waters. Turkey occupied the northern third of the island in 1974; the Republic of Cyprus, which governs the south and also has gas to sell, rejects the project.