Eastern Mediterranean Gas Fields and a New Energy Corridor to Europe
George Ch. Pelaghias
Several states in the Eastern Mediterranean, including Israel and Cyprus are currently developing their offshore hydrocarbon resources. In 2010, the US Geological Survey estimated that the Levant Basin (offshore Israel, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and Cyprus) holds reserves of 1.7 billion barrels of recover able oil and approximately 122 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, while the Nile Delta Basin Province (offshore Egypt) holds reserves of 1.8 billion barrels of recoverable oil, 223 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas, and 6 billion barrels of natural gas liquids. The prospect of large recoverable energy resources promises important economic and other changes for the region. Existing and proposed natural gas transit routes from Russia and the Caspian region form the main East-West energy corridors to Europe. As EU dependency on natural gas is expected to increase by 40% in the next twenty years, the establishment of an Eastern Mediterranean Energy Corridor linking current and future offshore natural gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean with the European continent would allow the EU to further diversify its energy supplies. The Eastern Mediterranean Energy Corridor is a project that could enhance bilateral relations and EU involvement in the Eastern Mediterranean. Israel and the Republic of Cyprus have already moved closer, and are looking at different options of extending their cooperation in the energy field. Lebanon is also making preparations for a first offshore licensing round, and it too is likely to develop into a natural gas producer and potential exporter. Cyprus, together with other southern EU member states should take the initiative for the construction of a new natural gas corridor to Europe and its incorporation into the broader energy security policy of the EU. Hand-in-hand, a regional liquefaction facility in Cyprus would facilitate the further exploration and production of the Eastern Mediterranean gas fields, and help provide other regional gas producers ready access to the European energy market.