MILAN, March 20 (Reuters) – Energy group Edison (EDNn.MI) plans to take the final investment decision on a proposed pipeline to deliver east Mediterranean gas to European markets by the end of this year, the Italian project developer told Reuters.

The EastMed-Poseidon pipeline, which would initially connect several gas fields offshore Israel to Italy and have an annual capacity of 10 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas, could be ready by 2027, Edison said.

The project, supported by Israel, Cyprus and Greece, would guarantee alternative supplies for Europe, which is weaning itself off of Russian piped gas. In addition, it would better connect Cyprus to its EU partners.

For these reasons, the European Commission could be interested in partly funding the project, whose cost is estimated at around 6 billion euros ($6.4 billion), Edison said.

“We expect to take the final investment decision (FID) by the end of this year. With a FID in 2023, the project would be realised by 2027,” Fabrizio Mattana, Edison’s executive vice president for gas assets, told Reuters in an interview.

The European Union imported 155 bcm of natural gas from Russia in 2021, equating to about 45% of its gas imports, according to the International Energy Agency.

Italy’s Edison, a subsidiary of France’s EDF (EDF.PA), and Greece’s DEPA International Projects are promoting the project through their joint venture IGI Poseidon.

Last year, they received independent positive assessments over the feasibility of the pipeline, which would be 2,000 kilometres (1,243 miles) long, with at least 800 km offshore.

The pipeline would be fed by Israeli gas fields already in production and others under development. These are Leviathan, Tamar and also the Tanin & Karish fields that have additional reserves to be developed, Mattana said.

These fields produce around 28 bcm a year, with about a third exported to Egypt and Jordan. Production is expected to climb in the coming years as current projects are expanded and any discoveries are brought online.