New regional cooperation scenarios despite conflicts!
⛅ In recent years, the Eastern Mediterranean has been a hot topic in international energy markets. Interest in the area arose when three large fields were discovered between 2009 and 2011: the Tamar and Leviathan fields in offshore Israel and the Aphrodite field in offshore Cyprus.
⛅ To exploit this potential, a number of export options where progressively discussed, from pipelines (to Turkey or Greece) to LNG plants (in Cyprus, Israel and Egypt).
⛅ Analysts have expressed hopes that the new gas discoveries might not only strengthen the energy cooperation in the region, but also pave the way for a new era of economic and political stability.
⛅ However, the high initial expectations were largely muted over time. In Israel, a long-lasting internal political debate on the management of the gas resources created a climate of uncertainty that contributed to the delay of key investment decisions.
⛅ In Cyprus, where the gas discovery was welcomed as a god-sent gift to relieve the country from its financial troubles, the initial enthusiasm cooled down due to successive downward revisions of the expected resources.
⛅ These developments raised scepticism on the general idea that the Eastern Mediterranean might become a gas-exporting region. But expectations were revived by the recent discovery of the large Zohr gas field in offshore Egypt. Considering its size, this discovery – the largest ever made in the Mediterranean Sea –might indeed completely change the regional gas outlook.
⛅ However, multiple lines of conflict (e.g. the Cyprus issue, the changing relations between Turkey, Israel and Egypt, Israel’s relations with neighbours and the Turkish-Greek disputes over the Aegean) make future potential exploitation of Eastern Mediterranean energy resources a major geopolitical issue.