Energy: a shaping factor for regional stability in the Eastern Mediterranean?

16-05-2017

Since 2010 the Eastern Mediterranean region has become a hotspot of international energy discussions due to a series of gas discoveries in the offshore of Israel, Cyprus and Egypt. To exploit this gas potential, a number of export options have progressively been discussed, alongside new regional cooperation scenarios. Hopes have also been expressed about the potential role of new gas discoveries in strengthening not only the regional energy cooperation, but also the overall regional economic and political stability. However, initial expectations largely cooled down over time, particularly due to delays in investment decision in Israel and the downward revision of gas resources in Cyprus. These developments even raised scepticism about the idea of the Eastern Mediterranean becoming a sizeable gas-exporting region. But initial expectations were revived in 2015, after the discovery of the large Zohr gas field in offshore Egypt. Considering its large size, this discovery has reshaped the regional gas outlook, and has also raised new regional cooperation prospects. However, multiple lines of conflict in the region continue to make future Eastern Mediterranean gas activities a major geopolitical issue. This study seeks to provide a comprehensive analysis of all these developments, with the ultimate aim of assessing the realistic implications of regional gas discoveries for both Eastern Mediterranean countries and the EU.

Since 2010 the Eastern Mediterranean region has become a hotspot of international energy discussions due to a series of gas discoveries in the offshore of Israel, Cyprus and Egypt. To exploit this gas potential, a number of export options have progressively been discussed, alongside new regional cooperation scenarios. Hopes have also been expressed about the potential role of new gas discoveries in strengthening not only the regional energy cooperation, but also the overall regional economic and political stability. However, initial expectations largely cooled down over time, particularly due to delays in investment decision in Israel and the downward revision of gas resources in Cyprus. These developments even raised scepticism about the idea of the Eastern Mediterranean becoming a sizeable gas-exporting region. But initial expectations were revived in 2015, after the discovery of the large Zohr gas field in offshore Egypt. Considering its large size, this discovery has reshaped the regional gas outlook, and has also raised new regional cooperation prospects. However, multiple lines of conflict in the region continue to make future Eastern Mediterranean gas activities a major geopolitical issue. This study seeks to provide a comprehensive analysis of all these developments, with the ultimate aim of assessing the realistic implications of regional gas discoveries for both Eastern Mediterranean countries and the EU.

External author

Simone TAGLIAPIETRA