Israel has approved the construction of a $6.9bn subsea pipeline project that will transport natural gas to Europe.

The Eastern Mediterranean (Eastmed) pipeline project, which has been under the planning stage for several years, received approval from the Israeli cabinet this week, reported Reuters.

The cabinet ratified an earlier agreement signed by the Israeli, Greek and Cypriot ministers to build the pipeline.

Once complete, the project will enable transporting natural gas from the offshore fields in Israel and Cyprus to Greece and then to Italy. The majority of the 1,900km-long pipeline will be under the sea with some portions on land.

A final investment decision is expected by 2022 while the associated countries aim to complete construction works by 2025.

Initially, the pipeline will carry around ten billion cubic metres of gas annually and gradually double its capacity.

The project is expected to help Israel enhance its footprint as an energy exporter.

Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz was quoted by the news agency as saying: “The government approval of the framework agreement for laying the Israel-Europe natural gas pipeline is another historic milestone for making Israel an energy exporter.”

Currently, a land and sea survey is underway to determine the route of the pipeline.

Eastmed pipeline project promoter IGI Poseidon and the European Union (EU) have each invested €35m ($40.09m) for the planning works.

Based in Athens, Greece, IGI Poseidon is a joint venture (JV) between DEPA and Edison.