Strategic studies

The conflict on gas in the Eastern of The Mediterranean

Introduction

The Middle East Region ranked first in containing a huge gas basins that the major countries are being conflicting on them since signing the Agreement of Earth Summit for Sustainable Environmental Development 1992. Recently, after more gas discoveries found in Mediterranean waters, and the high-demand on such discoveries, the region has become an increasingly important geopolitical site. Moreover, the region is a key transit point for gas pipelines among the three main continents in the world, hence the Eastern of The Mediterranean is currently in the spotlight of many countries that seek through their companies to secure a foothold in the region for the purpose of obtaining gas concessions, and to acquire as much concessions as possible, which raised the intensity of competition among the countries that embrace the gas basins in their regional waters (Syria – Lebanon – Palestine – Cyprus), and others that have taken the direction of forming a side alliances for commercial, economic and political considerations, with the exception of the main countries containing these natural wealth, especially Turkey and Syria that are considered as main transit countries in the region for the southern of Europe. Before the breakdown of the Syrian crisis in 2011, there were a set of requesting projects to transport gas from Syria via Qatari pipelines through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey territories to Europe, and the second pipeline from Iran to Europe through Iraqi and Syrian territories and Turkey territories to Europe.

 These gas discoveries would constitute one of the most important reasons for making a radical changes in the balance of power at the international and regional levels, the general directions of the international policies may change as a result of the transformation that can be generated from the international economic interactions in the Middle East and the Eastern of Mediterranean, such interactions aim at evading both of Syria and Turkey as a countries that control the transportation and supply of gas to Europe. As the gas explorations activities accelerated in the eastern Mediterranean, it is become apparent that most of the prospectors companies are belonging to a countries from Europe, United States of America, and Israel, due to the increasing need of these countries to diversify their economic sources, and their attempts to reduce their reliance on oil, besides their attempt also to increase their reliance on gas. A considerations of the preservation of environmental security, reducing the economic costs and the increase of energy sources may fall within the priority of the important determinants in the foreign policies of these countries, especially some of them may succeed over the time in converting from a gas consuming countries to an exporting countries.

However, the gas discoveries in the Mediterranean basin can fuel a new conflicts in the region, due to the acceleration of growing mobilizations, which could leave the region in chaos for a decades, Perhaps the indications of the conflict are evidenced by cases of high frequency of threats between Turkey, Greek Cyprus and the European Union on the one hand, and Lebanon and Israel on the other hand. It should be noted that, some countries are activating the steps of demarcation of their maritime boundaries rapidly, and determining their gas resources in their regional water regardless of resolving the core issues, as was the case in the Cyprus crisis that is still stuck without radical solutions between Turkey and Cyprus, as well as the Israeli-Lebanese negotiations on the maritime border issue that did not lead to a final solutions. Despite entering the United States as a mediator since 2017.

Apart from the ongoing issues, instead of calming the situations and ending the problems among all sides of the region, and forming an economic co-operation in order to realize the collective partnership benefit among all producer and consumer countries of gas, some countries entered the competition and established, in cooperation with the Egyptian Republic, the “Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum” [1], which included (Israel – Italy – Jordan – Palestine – Egypt – Greece – Cyprus) which came as a reaction to Turkey’s initiation of exploration on the natural resources in the western Cyprus in the waters that it considers  fall within the continental shelf of the Turkish Cypriot sovereign.

This paper deals with the importance of the discovered gas resources in the Eastern Mediterranean Basin, and the international interactions in dealing with this issue in the light of the intensity of the international competition.

The gas in the eastern of the Mediterranean (transformations and discoveries)

Gas has a major importance in the world as it is one of the most important sources of light energy, since 2015 the reliance has increased on it and ranked second after oil with 21.6 percent, between 2006 and 2016 the production of gas has increased to reach 23.5 percent, due to high-demand of some European countries and China and Japan which has tended to reduce its reliance on power plants which have a large quantities of carbon dioxide emissions, and started to rely on the neutral gas. Figure No. 1 shows the list of countries with the most carbon dioxide emissions [2].

The Middle East region alone occupies 42.5 percent of the global reserves of natural gas, while (Qatar – Russia – Iran) possess 48.3% of the global reserves, the figure No (2) shows the volume of gas reserves confirmed to countries and the rate of reserves of the production of countries that possess the largest proportions of gas in the world [3].

    State   Confirmed Reserve of gas in 2015 (trillion cubic meters)   Confirmed Reserve of gas in 2014 (trillion cubic meters)   The percentage of overall world gas reserve   The rate of Global gas reserve
Iran 34.0 34.0 18.2 176.8
Russia 32.3 32.4 17.7 56.3
Qatar 24.5 24.5 13.1 153.2
Turkmenistan 17.5 17.5 9.4 241.2
USA 10.4 10.4 5.6 13.6
Saudi Arabia 8.3 8.3 4.5 78.2
Emirates 6.1 6.1 3.3 109.2
Venezuela 5.6 5.6 3.0 173.2
Nigeria 5.1 5.1 2.7 102.1
Algeria 4.5 4.5 2.4 54.2
The world 186.9 187.8 100 52.8

During the last decade, the Middle East region has gained geopolitical importance, following the huge discoveries in gas reserves. According to the estimates of U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in 2010, there are about 340 billion cubic meters of natural gas sources in the Eastern Mediterranean Basin, shared by Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Cyprus, Palestine and Egypt. Although the figures were approximate, the persistent discoveries of gas started to disclose some correct numbers, especially with the discovery of the first oil reserves off the Israeli coast by the American company “Noble Energy”, where it revealed the “Tamar” field, which contains 283 billion cubic meters of gas, which followed by the discovery of the Leviathan field in 2010 at a rate of 623 billion cubic meters, such discoveries followed by the discovery of Aphrodite field off the southern coast of Cyprus by Noble Energy company and Delek Group. The gas reserves are estimated at 255 billion cubic meters, hence the discoveries has increased up to 2015, wherein the Italian company Eni announced the discovery of the Egyptian Zohr field with a gas reserve rate of 850 billion cubic meters, in February 2018 the “Italian Eni and the French Total” companies has announced the discovery of the “Calypso” field in the Cypriot waters to the east, it was estimated to contain 8 trillion Cubic meters, and recently in the first quarter of 2019, the company “Axo Mobil” announced the discovery of the “Galvecos” field in southwestern Cyprus that was estimated to contain 5 to 8 trillion cubic meters of natural gas [5].

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In the figure (3) below you can see the order of discoveries in the triangle of Mediterranean basin.

  Field Estimated reserve of gas   Date of discovery   Investment company   Site of exploration
  Tamar 283 Billion cubic meters   2009     American company Noble energy   Off Palestinian coast
  Leviathan 623 Billion cubic meters   2010 American company Noble energy   Off Palestinian coast
  Aphrodite   255 Billion cubic meters   2011 American company Noble energy And Israeli Delek group   Off southern coast of Cyprus
  Zohr   850 billion cubic meters   2015   Italian company Eni In the coasts located between Egypt and Cyprus
  Calypso   8 trillion cubic meters   2018 Italian company Eni& French company Total In the eastern coast of Cyprus
  Galvecos   8 trillion cubic meters   2019   Axo Mobile   In the west of the waters

All these discoveries prompted the countries of the Mediterranean basin to enter a race on exploration, because these resources represent a remarkable transformation in the regional landscape of energy. Perhaps the geopolitical added value of the Mediterranean basin after these discoveries, has become the first drive for the political moves of the countries to determine the exclusive economic regions. In addition to the ceiling of political and economic gains have increased for some countries in order to rise to the ranks of gas exporting countries, achieve sustainable economic development, and enter the global gas market. However, the geopolitical aspirations remain suspended with the entry of these countries into the melting pot of conflicts, such as Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and Turkey, as the exploitation of natural resources require from the Eastern Mediterranean countries to overcome the contentious issues quickly, and move forward establishing  complementary interconnection leads to promoting the capabilities necessary to benefit from the wealth collectively, as some countries such as Syria has become a failed country and economically collapsed, in addition to the economic costs of exploration operations need advanced technology and facilities to liquefy gas, such capabilities only available in the companies belong to the major countries and the Arab Republic of Egypt, as those countries through their companies rushed to conclude unilateral and bilateral deals, to start the exploration operations immediately . Accordingly several agreements have been made among Cyprus, Israel and Greece, between Israel and Egypt, and between Egypt and Greece, which lead to ignite the tension among the countries, whose contentious issues are still unresolved, such as the crisis between Turkey and Cyprus, and between Israel and Lebanon. Moreover, the recent emergence of conglomerates and anti-axes to get some countries, such as Turkey, out of the gas equation. Figure (4) symbolizes the most prominent gas fields discovered in Cyprus.

The discovery of gas reserve in Cyprus waters was not augurs well for both countries, due to the divergence of political views since the issue of the division of the Cypriot island in 1974, to a northern part under the administration of the Turkish Cypriot government, and a southern part administered by the Greek Cypriots. Yet the northern part is not internationally recognized, while the northern part is requesting the international recognition as a legitimate government, but Ankara rejects such move. The negotiations over the issue of Cyprus continued over the past years with the aim of the unification of the island, the last negotiation round was held under United Nations auspices in 2017 and it failed [6].

When Cyprus announced the discovery of the “Calypso” field in 2018, the tension between both sides has increased, because the first one has signed an agreements to demarcate the maritime borders with Israel 2010 [7], and other agreement with Egypt in 2013 [8], which prompted Ankara to claim its share of discovered resources where it fall within the economic zone of Turkish Cypriots in square No 3 south of the island of Cyprus, it believe that northern part of square No 6 intersects with the continental shelf that Turkey believes that it belong to it, it also increased its claims to demand the implementation of the final division of the island, for the purpose of benefiting the Turkish Cypriots from the field of Aphrodite that it is interfering with the economic zone of Cyprus Greece. Turkey argue that the discovered resources on the island belong to everyone, and no one may unilaterally monopolize it, but Cyprus Greece, ignored all the Turkish warnings, and it conducted the demarcation of exclusive economic zone, which enable it to exploit the gas wealth in its territorial waters, which prompted Ankara to reciprocate, as it signed an agreement to demarcate the continental shelf with the northern part of the island in 2011 [9]. Accordingly, an overlap has been occurred between the economic regions of the two countries, and each side has claimed its right to the disputed areas, as in Figure No. 5 [10]

The year of 2018 known as the year of tension and escalation between both sides, as Turkey intercepted the ship Sipem 12000 affiliated to the Italian company Eni, while it was attempting to explore in the Cypriot waters, despite Ankara’ rejection to any exploration operations off the coast of Cyprus, it has provided a licenses to the “Turkish Petroleum” 2009-2012 for gas exploration in the northern part that it controls from the island of Cyprus. Turkey stresses that it has the legal right to explore, and the exploration fall within its continental shelf, but such act is contradicts with the Law of the Sea Convention on [11] 1982 which Turkey refrained from signing it in 1982, on the pretext that this document grants remarkable rights to islands. Turkey rushed to prove its right in the exclusive economic zone, and it sent on the July 10, 2018 Al-Fateh [12] ship to explore for gas in Cypriot waters, which then it sent the Yavuz ship on June 20, 2019. Through the tracking of the pathway of the two ships, they have reached the part that is internationally recognized as a part of  

Republic of Cyprus, in which the exploration share was obtained by the Italian company Eni, “Total France”, and the American “Exo Mobil”. See Figure No. (6) [13].

Turkish actions led to the development of counter-reactions from Greek Cyprus, which based its actions on the support of European Union countries, that in turn imposed a sanctions on Ankara, because of its embarking on the exploration off the coast of Cyprus.

 The current disagreement between Turkey and Cyprus, Greece, reflects the desire of each side to prove its vital presence by making gas an economic lever for it, and to take advantage of the geographical location, to play a future role in energy globally. Turkey maintains its long-standing position that Cyprus is just an island, and it has no right to possess a a continental shelf with a depth of 200 miles, so it rejects all investment agreements that Cyprus and Greece have signed with international companies, Turkish ambition is not absent for the benefit of the discovered wealth for reach the list of exporting states in the region, due to its the geographical location that allows it to do so as it locates nearby the north of Africa, Asia and Europe. Furthermore, its intention to overcome it continued need for a states such as Russia, Iran and Iraq to import natural gas to cover the domestic internal deficit. However, these hopes remain suspended with Cyprus’ return to the top of the geopolitical competition in the eastern of the Mediterranean, based on the European support that may raise the cost of confrontations with Turkey and place it in front of a multi-party confrontation, that started its implications as Italy sent to the Cypriot regions to prevent the boats of the Turkish army from obstructing the gas exploration operations made by the Italian company “Eni” [14].

Israel, Lebanon, Egypt

the disagreement between Israel and Lebanon centered on the issue of demarcating the maritime boundary, since the failure of extending the Blue Stream gas pipeline 2, in accordance with a previous agreement signed between Russia and Turkey in 1997, that concluded to transport Russian gas to Turkey via a pipeline that pass over the Black Sea, it was assumed that the flow of blue gas would branch in two directions, the first from Turkey to Europe via Bulgaria and Serbia, and the second from Turkey to Israel, but this pipeline has stopped due to the provision of other alternatives of gas pipelines. Accordingly, the maritime boundary between both sides have not been demarcated. Moreover, the fact that Israel is not a signatory to the Law of the Sea agreement, and considers it to be part of the exclusive economic zone defined by the Lebanese government, this disputed area amounts to 860 km2, and according to the division of squares the problem is raised on square No. 8-9 as in Figure No. (7) [15]

With regard to Lebanon, it rejected all Israeli allegations and considered them illegal, as it also rejected the Boundary Demarcation Agreement signed between Cyprus and Israel, and some sources indicated that Israel wishes to extract Lebanon’s share of the discovered wealth, but Lebanon has divided the exclusive economic zone into ten squares. However, such measures do not prevent Israel from extracting a water area in the disputed area in the two squares (8-9). In light of the escalating dispute, Cyprus and the United States intervened as a mediator to resolve the dispute, and made several proposals to distribute the shares between both sides of the dispute, but Lebanon has completely rejected such proposal, and it considers that the entire zone fall within the Lebanese territorial waters. After the failure of the negotiations, Lebanon conducted oil and gas exploration off its coasts, and on February 9, 2018, it signed an agreement with a consortium of international companies, such as the French “Total”, the Italian “Eni” and the Russian “Novatek” to explore for oil and gas in square No. 4 and No. 9 in its territorial waters. [16]. This angered Israel, it described the matter as a “provocative” step, and demanded the international companies not to engage in the exploration processes. In 2017, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Israel agreed to build a pipeline to transport the gas under the water from the producing fields in the Eastern Mediterranean to Europe [17]. Lebanon’s share of natural gas containing in this part of the Mediterranean is estimated at about 96 trillion cubic feet, it is undoubtedly a fortune could help Lebanon to reduce its public debt that which according to the latest official statistic reached 85.25 billion dollars [18]. On February 16, 2018, the United States again mediated between Lebanon and Israel in the dossiers of maritime and land borders through “David Satterfield,” the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs. Satterfield put forward proposals dating back to 2012 to draw the maritime borders between the two parties, but Lebanon rejected the proposal, and insisted on rejecting the proposal and insisted on its position regarding the demarcation of the maritime borders through the tripartite committee that resulted from the April 1996 understanding that includes Lebanon, Israel and the United Nations.

With regard to Israel, he discovery of gas is considered as a qualitative transformation for it, as it turned it from a geographically isolated and impoverished entity in energy sources, into an entity that might be a global key player in the future market of natural gas. Israel has always suffered from the energy poverty after the failure of all its previous attempts to find oil in the lands it occupied, since 1947,which made it the only country that imported all of its oil needs from the oil producing and exporting countries. In 2005, the transformation has occurred in the Israeli equation, with the start of importing Egyptian gas through the (Al-Areesh-Ashkelon) pipeline, which started then to pump in 2012. Although Israel justified its cooperation with Egypt, as a strategic commitment in the matter of the economy, but at the same time, such allegations do not exempt it of unilateralism equation, in the purpose of fulfill its ambitions to move to the level of impact, not only politically but economically, and with the discovery of “Noble Energy” for the fields of Tamar and Leviathan (2009-2010), the equation for Israel has actually changed to become within the list of potential gas exporters in the future.

 But Tel Aviv’s main problem has always been its limited ability to take advantage of the huge gas reserves due to the following reasons:

  • The ongoing disputes with the Nobel Companies Alliance over the utilization of gas reserves shares [19].
  • Some difficulties such as the access to the global markets to export the gas from the two fields (Tamar-Aphrodite), which need an infrastructure such as extending a gas pipelines to the neighboring countries.
  • Israel’s failure to establish an independent installation to export the liquefied natural gas.

The aforementioned obstacles have strengthen the conviction of the occupying entity towards the reliance on Egypt anew, because it is the only Arab country in the region that has the capabilities and the infrastructure to manufacture and export the liquefied gas. Moreover, Israel knows that Egypt, under its current regime, aspires to play a regional role in the future of energy, because it has been since a decades at the forefront of all region’s countries in exporting gas. Accordingly, another Israeli conviction has strengthen, that can summed up in the Egyptian political investment. It should be noted that, the Egyptian exports of natural gas has declined after reaching its peak in 2009 to 20 billion cubic meters, and in 2015 it was forced to close the liquefaction stations to become a pure natural gas importer for several reasons:

  • Decline in exploration and investment activities due to internal and external changes that have gone through over the past ten years.
  • The increase of the domestic demand for gas, which prompted it for more than once to raise the price of natural gas.

Although Egypt celebrated the discovery of the Zohr field, estimated to have a reserve of 850 billion cubic meters, which it claimed that it will return it to the list of gas exporters quickly, but the hopes has gradually shaded, due to the scale of the gap between the growing consumption, the size of its actual reserves, and the apparent deficit in the oil trade balance and gas sector for the two years (2018-2019) [20], in addition to the higher share of contracting companies of gas revenues. If such matters have taken into account, will remain an importer of oil and gas for decades. According to the aforementioned matters, Egypt will only has one choice, if it desired to be a regional center for gas, such choice simply is to import gas from abroad through exploiting its infrastructure ready to liquefy gas and export it at higher prices, It is the reason that prompted her to sign an agreement with Cyprus in 2016. The differences between Israel’s ambitions on the one hand and Egypt, and Lebanon’s modest ambitions, constituted a convergence of interests between disputing parties and allies, with the aim of achieving an entire benefit from some countries that are indifferent to dealing with the occupation state, to in order to extract some gains in their exclusive and disputed economic regions with some countries such as Turkey. With Tel Aviv and Nicosia’s aspirations to take advantage of Cairo’s capabilities to export their gas wealth. Accordingly, the formation of a coalition of interests to benefit from energy in the eastern Mediterranean was announced, the features of this 2013 coalition emerged during the demarcation of Egypt and Cyprus maritime borders between them, despite Turkey’s objection, and the coalition crystallized more clearly in 2014 With the first Egyptian-Greek Cypriot Summit in Cairo. The summit developed what looks like a coalition for security and economic energy, and things took a clearer trend on January 14, 2019, through adding a new key players for what has become known as the Middle East Forum for gas in Cairo and it now includes (Israel, Italy, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and Cyprus Greece and Jordan). The Forum has become the first step towards bringing together gas exporters in the Eastern Mediterranean and potential gas importers in Europe. The declared coalition aims to achieve the following:

  • Expanding the gas pipeline network between Cyprus, Israel and Egypt through the conglomerate (American Noble Energy, Israeli Delek Group and the Egyptian Mediterranean Gas company belonging to the Egyptian Intelligence).
  • Control and monopolize the Mediterranean gas wealth among the Forum’s member states at the expense of Turkey and emerging Russia.
  • Taking the advantage of the Egyptian gas liquefaction manufacturers for Cyprus, Israel and Europe.
  • Tightening the noose around Ankara in its attempt to explore for natural gas fields in the economic zone that it considers to be affiliated thereto.
  • Supporting gas delivery networks between Cyprus, Israel and Europe under the supervision of the United States of America with the aim of restricting Russian economic influence in the region.
  • The access of United States of America through its companies to the wealth of the Mediterranean basin, with the aim of benefiting from the wealth existing therein, and developing its companies’ experiences in the gas field and achieving a kind of balance in front of European companies.
  •  

Russian role

Moscow is closely monitoring the escalating developments in the Eastern of Mediterranean basin, and is deliberately working on an integrated economic strategy to extract its share from the discovered wealth. Accordingly, it has started its first steps since its intervention in Syria in 2015, as Moscow understands the importance of Syria’s geopolitical in the region, because it is an important location to extend an overlapping networks of gas and oil pipelines from the Arabian Gulf and Iran through Syria and Turkey to Europe, so it seeks to control any possible alternative to its gas supplies to Europe. Moreover, it seeks to be a party through exploitation of the Mediterranean gas to be exported to Europe.

Under the pretext of supporting the government of Damascus in combating terrorism, and managing the conflict among the disputing parties, Russia managed to extend its control over the majority of the Syrian geography, with the aim of controlling the vital location of Syria and consequently the future of energy. After a several attractive offers by the government of Damascus to introduce a generous offers in exchange for protection, “Sezenftagaz” company was able to sign an agreement to invest the natural gas in the Syrian coast for a period of 25 years starting from the year 2014 [21], After that, the concessions of the Damascus government continued for Moscow regarding the right of exploration in the oil and gas sector, until in early 2018, up to the Damascus government announcement that grants Russia the right to explore and discover oil and gas in all of Syria’s geography and territorial waters [22].

Through Russian domination on the entire oil and gas sector, it has become able to play an active role on any transit project through Syria, so this would make it an actual partner in any future projects, and will make it present in the equations of balances and the future deals of the wealth of the Mediterranean basin as well. As the long-term objective of the countries that benefit from the gas basins is to extend a new pipelines with the aim of delivering gas to the countries of Europe and China. By virtue of its current influence, not only in Syria, but also in the whole region, Russia will obtain a share of the such projects, whether from the gas that reaches Europe through Turkey, Greece or Syria, and it is clear that Moscow will prevent Western countries from tightening the noose around it to get it out or reduce the reliance on it in the gas equation. All the aforesaid could be disadvantage because Russia continues to extend its expansion strategy in the region, and it seize of more vital areas through which oil tankers pass, or that the gas pipelines pass through them.

Russia has succeeded recently to sing a treaty with the Iraqi government through which it would reactivate the Kirkuk Banias oil pipeline by “Soirzneftegaz” company, and with its control over the Syrian corridor, in addition to launching of the Turkish liquefaction line with Turkey to Europe, Russia will have tightened its control over the European market, unless the United States directly supplied the European countries with oil and gas, this option remains excluded, due to the absence of an integrated American strategies throughout the region in addition to it adopts the policy of deflation from the Middle East.

Perhaps Russia reads well the American moves in the region that it completely aims to prove its full presence in the Eurasia and Eastern Europe region. Therefore, it aims to fill the vacuum at the political and economic level. Politically, it attempts to reduce the size of the geographical areas in its favor, by extending its influence over the Middle East region to the African continent. Economically, it entered in the early stage of the struggle of the hubs on gas, it signed through its company “Rosneft”, with Egypt an investment agreement on gas in the Zohr field, such deal worth $ 2 billion dollars [23], which suggests that Moscow does not object to conclude a strategic partnership with Egypt and making the latter a hub for global gas supply, in exchange for the presence of Russia in the equation and its role in transporting gas to southern Europe, on the other hand, Moscow is seeking to acquire European markets by extending the southern liquefaction line of Turkey to transport gas to Europe, as the project was officially launched in November 2017, so it is working on supporting Turkey in the hubs conflict, and recently it announced its readiness to accompany the Turkish ships during its work in gas exploration in its economic region, which it considers to be affiliated to, as Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak stated that his country’s companies are ready to cooperate with Turkey in the field of East Mediterranean Energy [24].

The Multiple Russian moves towards Egypt and Turkey, indicate to its desire to play an active role in the issue of exporting the East Mediterranean gas, and to maintain its control over the European Union countries, that are trying to reduce their reliance on Russian gas. With the escalation of the tension between the eastern and western camps, it is clear that the gas weapon is the title of the conflicts in the upcoming stage, especially since the Russian declaration that it will stand with Turkey, which is considered as the most important interactions in the Eastern Mediterranean gas file, which is likely to take the direction of the growing security and geopolitical threats in the region.

Conclusion

the Middle East region suffers from a sustainable conflicts to date, and it is prepared for more conflicts in the light of the information that have been mentioned. Gas discoveries in the eastern of Mediterranean basins and the heightened intensity of competition with the gas weapon would change the entire rules of the game in the region, especiallythere are a number of maritime disputes that are still moving toward more complexity, whether between Turkey, Cyprus and Greece, or between Israel and Lebanon. On the one hand, some countries tend to take unilateral steps to take advantage of the gas wealth, without coordination and cooperation with the corresponding countries that might benefit from such discoveries like them, On the contrary, some countries, such as the Greek Cypriot, have resorted to opening its waters for the European companies, with a view to obtaining protection from them, and achieving self-sufficiency in energy sources at the expense of unequal partnership. The European companies, mostly from America, Europe and Israel, have contributed to the opening of the gas conflict, especially after the emergence of gas discoveries which reached the most important field that known as “Calypso” 2018. It is clear that Cyprus, Israel and Egypt are heading to obtain the greatest benefit from the issue of gas that will be exported to the global markets. It should be noted that, Egypt will have the lower share of the benefit, due to an internal economic considerations in the oil and gas sectors internally, and this is what ultimately led it to enhance its cooperation with the major countries, and prompted it to form the ” the Forum of Eastern Mediterranean” through a bloc of coalition that some countries are considering it as an attempt to establish an international position at the expense of preventing Turkey and Russia from playing a role in the future of the energy in the region.

Despite all the obstacles and the possibilities of maritime clash and containment, Turkey remains in a difficult position and it has a limited options, due to the increase of the size of international blocs towards it, on the one hand there is no real political breakthrough between Cyprus Turkey and Cyprus Greek to resolve the historical dispute over the Cyprus crisis, and instead of the discovered wealth bringing the parties closer and benefit from the natural resources, the possibility of confrontation has increased after Turkey implemented some of its threat to restore to hinder the Italian company Eni, as the first time in Turkey’s modern history. Moreover, the rigidity of views, and the sliding of Cyprus and Greece towards European countries more, may open all possibilities for the two countries, and put them in the future in a limited options, due to the increase of the influence of the international key players in the region, as Russia recently announced its desire to help Turkey in the issue of gas exploration in its exclusive economic zones, and this announcement would enhance the Russian-Turkish-Iranian rapprochement in the face of the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean Forum.

Due to the raging conflict in the region, and in light of the new developments in the Mediterranean basin, and the low opportunities for solutions, in addition to the return for the cold war between America and Russia, the opportunities for reaching a solutions and  exploiting the resources of the Mediterranean basin remain low compared to the high level of risks and divergent views of interests and goals.

“The opinion stated herein does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Barq for Policies and Consultations”

All rights reserved to Barq Policies and Consultations © 2019

[1] https://arbne.ws/2M5mBvG Al-Hurra, seven countries are establishing the East Mediterranean Gas Forum, n – on, 14- January / 2019, seen on August 8, 2019.

[2] http://bit.ly/2ORkfma See Figure No. 1 of the countries with the most carbon dioxide emissions in the world, Al Maarfa , seen on August 9, 2019

.[3] http://bit.ly/2Z3osmP Figure (2) Al-Qabas online network, the largest gas reserves in Russia, Iran and Qatar, N- dated July 2- 2016 N- on August 8, 2019.

[4] https://on.doi.gov/2GVrdQD US Geological Survey, “Assessment of Undiscovered Oil and Gas Resources in the Al Mashreq Region, Eastern Mediterranean”, The Global Petroleum Resources Project for 2010, seen on August 8 – August 2019.

[5] https://arbne.ws/31pZaRi Al-Hurra, the discovery of a huge gas field in Cyprus that could change the rules of the game, n- on March 4, 2019, seen on August 8, 2019

.[6] http://bit.ly/2YzVpfg France 24 United Nations ended negotiations on the Cyprus crisis without reaching an agreement, n- on 7-7 2017- watched August 8, 2019.

[7] http://bit.ly/2YNQaUk Al-Jazeera, Turkey criticizes the border demarcation agreement between Cyprus and Israel, seen on August 8, 2019.

[8] http://bit.ly/2KBus0Q Al maarfa, the hydrocarbon reservoir framework agreement, between Cyprus and Egypt, was seen on August 8, 2019.

[9] http://bit.ly/2YAcRA7 Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, ratification of the boundary treaty approving fields with Turkey 2011, accessed 8 August 2019

[10] Midan Aljazeera: see Figure 5, the disputed areas between Turkey and Cyprus, was seen on August 8, 2019,

[11] http://bit.ly/2YVGPK4 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, seen on August 8, 2019.

[12] http://bit.ly/2YQ67JO Arabay: Turkey sends a new ship to explore for gas in the eastern Mediterranean, seen on August 8, 2019.

[13] Al-Hurra: see Figure No. (6) the story of the gas struggle, seen on August 8, 2019.

[14] http://bit.ly/2YDK8u9 Masrawy: the first military response from Italy to Turkey’s violations in the Cypriot waters, on- February 13, 2018, was seen on August 8, 2019.

[15] Al-Jazeera, see Figure 7 Block 9, the oil dispute between Israel and Lebanon, seen on August 9, 2019.

[16] http://bit.ly/31tL8hC Middle East, Lebanon will receive 71% of revenues from gas exploration, seen on August 9, 2019.

[17] http://bit.ly/2YJGGOO Cyprus Greece Israel Italy, signs an agreement to build an undersea oil pipeline, seen, on August 8, 2019.

[18] http://bit.ly/33oekZ6 Alaraby: Lebanon’s debt amounts reached $ 85.25 billion … and the Central Bank’s assets shrink 11%, n- on April 19, 2019, seen on August 8, 2019.

[19] https://arbne.ws/2OOAVuI Al-Hurra, exploitation of gas in the Eastern Mediterranean, new milestones and obstacles, N- dated 12- February 2019, seen on 10- August 2019.

[20] http://bit.ly/2ZOW8pk Barq for Policies and Consultations, Abdel Hafez Al-Sawy, Economics of Oil and Natural Gas in Egypt, n- dated 7-7 August 2019, seen on 10 August 2019

[21] http://bit.ly/2TjJhJr Al-Alam channel, gas agreement between Russia and Syria, n- on, 1- January 2014, seen on August 10, 2019.

[22] http://bit.ly/2ZK0M81 Enab Baladi, Russia on the way to dominating the Mediterranean Gas, n- on July 13- July 2018, seen on 10 August 2019.

[23] http://bit.ly/2Z1RRSl Al-Jazeera, a Russian company buys 30% of the Egyptian Zohr field, N- dated 12-12-2016, seen on August 10, 2019.

[24] http://bit.ly/33uALvT Anatolia, Russia is ready to accompany Turkey in the exploration of gas in the eastern Mediterranean, n- on 5-8-2019, seen on 10- August 2019.

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