East Med like… the disputed South China Sea?

East Med like… the disputed South China Sea?

Developments in the Eastern Mediterranean region have been at the heart of the meeting of yesterday’s officials and energy market players within the Brussels Energy Club, as the tensions of each of the parties involved increase, and the moment when hope for the existence of significant gas reserves becomes a belief (?).

The first data from the exploration of plot 10 and the assessment of seismic surveys show, according to reports in the Cyprus press, that this field hosts significant hydrocarbon reserves, is possibly similar to those of the Zohr field in Egypt.

If these optimistic estimates are confirmed, only because of the involvement of Exxon Mobil Qatar Petroleum, pressures on Nicosia are expected to increase.

Meanwhile, new data is attracting Dutch Shell’s interest in buying gas from the Aphrodite deposit in Cyprus and the Leviathan deposit in Israel, compared to 25 billion dollars for the next ten years. “We are close to an agreement and at a rather advanced stage.

What is proven is the regional dimension of the issue, not only for Shell’s ‘Aphrodite’ but also for Leviathan”, said Yiorgos Lakkotropis, Energy Minister of Cyprus.

The Egyptian official, Magdy Rady, who has argued that EU co-operation is a new perspective in every way of how to commercialise the quantities of natural gas to be exported with the countries of the broader Eastern Mediterranean region should be closer, as this prospect only benefits everyone.

Europe is, he said, the one that has to go ahead and “organise” the whole affair, as it will benefit in the second year from gas imports. According to him, the EU must send clear messages to all the parties involved in the Eastern Mediterranean, while offering its know-how and experience in managing such crises.

The need for cooperation and reunification of Cyprus in order for Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to enjoy what their homeland offers them was also raised by the President of Cyprus, Nikos Anastasiades, in an interview with Al Jazeera.

A new perspective on what is happening in the Eastern Mediterranean was offered by the Eni’s vice-president for government affairs, Fabio Marchetti, as he argued and was reported by the NGW website, “Zohr gives a purpose to all other smaller fields around because the needed infrastructure is already in place in Port Said (Egypt). Instead of trying to come up with new big projects, we can connect smaller fields to Zohr.”

So, shall we suppose, that we are opting for Egypt as a solution for export to Eastern Europe of natural gas quantities instead of the ambitious East Med pipeline? If this option is finalised, the balance with Turkey, which aspires to be part of the planning of the commercial exploitation of the Eastern Mediterranean resources, will be re-shaped.

But as Magdy Rady quoted, citing an excerpt from the Eastern Mediterranean report of the think-tank European Council on Foreign Relations, “Egypt is the only country that would be able to export gas autonomously to Europe because of the size of its stock and its infrastructures”.

He said, however, that the dispute of the East Med – Egypt pipeline choice is wrong because the aim is to export gas to Europe.

“There is no need for exclusivity,” he says, but on the other hand, is not possible to achieve it all…/IBNA