Energy security is an issue of global concern that has gained prominence over time in correlation with the rise in global energy demand. By the sheer chance of its geographical location, Cyprus finds itself surrounded by the Middle East, North Africa and the Caspian Sea regions – all of which are major crude oil and natural gas producing areas, and all of which feature prominently and strategically within the context of energy security.
The situation that exists within the energy sector of the Greater Eastern Mediterranean region is complicated enough to invite a number of potential misunderstandings or even incidents. Crises can erupt when things are brought to an abrupt halt and when the threat of violence, or even a return to violence, looms. The question which engulfs this issue is whether countries which are new to the energy industry will be allowed to develop their energy resources independently and export their production freely, or whether they will continually face a situation where a stronger neighbour is forcing reluctant decisions upon them.
At the same time, due to the global dependence on fossil fuels and the harmful effect that their use has on the environment, it has become increasingly necessary to develop alternative sources of energy. This is of particular concern throughout the European Union and the Eastern Mediterranean due to their reliance on such resources. In order to provide greater energy security for the EU, many initiatives have been implemented to explore resources that can be used continuously, or which are ‘renewable’, as these can be more widely produced and will assist in decreasing the emissions which are currently created by the burning of fossil fuels. Renewable energy sources such as wind, solar thermal, photovoltaic, small hydro and biomass are, therefore, becoming of particular importance in this region.
The ERPIC Energy Program aims to analyze the developing energy concerns, and solutions in the region encompassing Cyprus, Israel, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt. In addition, energy matters in the Caspian Sea and Black Sea regions, as well as energy transportation schemes included in and associated with the ‘Southern Corridor’, will be explored. This includes not only the regions already mentioned, but Southeast Europe and the Middle East.
The Program explores these issues hosting conferences and seminars, and publishes materials contributed by leading academics and professionals. The materials and findings relating to these issues are made available on the ERPIC website in both text and video format.
Energy Security and the European Rim
Europe’s political agenda to achieve its core energy objectives of sustainability, competitiveness and security of supply are very dependent on its relationship with its periphery. At present there are at least five proposed pipeline routes designed to move crude oil out of the Black Sea to world markets: the AMBO pipeline across the Balkans; the Burgas–Alexandroupolis pipeline through Bulgaria and Greece; the Pan European Oil Pipeline across south-western Europe between Constanza, Romania, and Trieste, Italy; the Odessa-Brody-Plock pipeline, through Ukraine and Poland; and the Samsun-Ceyhan pipeline through eastern Turkey.
Understanding the current state of play in the energy markets of countries acting as suppliers and entry routes for Europe is essential in predicting the future of energy supply and demand on the EU market.
Emerging Energy Markets in the Eastern Mediterranean
The Eastern Mediterranean countries are actively engaged in the exploration and development of hydrocarbon resources to various degrees. The most successful have been Libya and Egypt. However, Syria also produces crude oil and gas, much of which is used domestically, and seismic data has been acquired in Lebanon’s and Syria’s offshore waters. Israel produces small amounts of hydrocarbons but has recently announced two large offshore gas discoveries very near to Cyprus’s offshore zone, where so far only seismic surveys have been conducted. The advent of new technology has made this geographical location a new focus of international attention as the potential for hydrocarbon discovery and exploitation creates new economic and political possibilities in an area previously thought to be energy poor.
Gary Lakes is the Director at Energy Program, European Rim Policy and Investment Council (ERPIC). Having been with the Middle East Economic Survey (MEES) for more than 22 years, Gary has tracked hydrocarbon projects in the East Mediterranean Sea, the Caspian Sea/Central Asia region, and North Africa. He has reported on and analyzed the geopolitical developments in these areas in relation to the international oil and gas industries. His previous assignments while at MEES have been those of Caspian Editor and North Africa Editor. Prior to joining MEES, Gary worked at a number of regional publications that dealt with energy and economic issues including Middle East Banking and Finance Magazine, The Middle East Times, and Arab Press Service. While at MEES, Gary launched and maintained a section specifically addressing the rise of the oil and gas industry in the Caspian Sea littoral states of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan. Gary has followed the evolution of a nascent hydrocarbon industry in the Eastern Mediterranean since the mid-2000’s when the countries in the region first began their efforts to ascertain the value of offshore drilling.
Carol E. Bailey
Carol Bailey is a former Country Chairman of Shell Companies in Indonesia, having held Senior Executive and Operational roles in a board range of disciplines in the Oil & Gas and FMCG industries, throughout Asia and Europe. In 2011, Carol settled in Cyprus providing research, advisory and consulting services to the emerging hydrocarbons and power industries in Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean region. Carol E. Bailey studied Management Information and Data Processing at Glasgow Caledonian University (1979). She has held executive positions in several management disciplines. During her time in Indonesia she was involved in securing operating licenses, as well as the negotiations of major contracts for land, construction of facilities and provision of third party services.