Energy wars in the Eastern Mediterranean - ERDAL TANAS KARAGÖL

Energy wars in the Eastern Mediterranean

Tensions are rapidly rising in the Eastern Mediterranean. As is known, natural gas operations that started to intensify in the region since the early second millennium, had caused this area to become the focus of international energy companies.

The explorations in the waters of Israel, the Greek Administration of Southern Cyprus (GASC), Egypt, Lebanon and Palestine led to the discovery of numerous natural gas fields of various sizes.

As the exploration operations in the East Mediterranean continued, the number of natural gas resources discovered also continued to rise. Naturally, Turkey also rolled up its sleeves to drill for natural has in the East Mediterranean region. Currently, Turkey is taking important steps to protect both its own and the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus’s (KKTC) rights with respect to ownership of hydrocarbon resources in the East Mediterranean.

However, with Turkey recently accelerating operations to explore the East Mediterranean for natural gas, tensions in the region have suddenly started to intensify. The EU and U.S. intervening along with other countries in the region, has led to a new political situation in the East Mediterranean.

They’re ignoring Turkey

It is apparent that both the countries in the region and the U.S. are developing a new policy with respect to ignoring and isolating Turkey in the East Mediterranean.

We had previously witnessed the GASC, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Palestine and Egypt assemle under the name of the “East Mediterranean Gas Forum,” and make great efforts to exclude Turkey.

Based on the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) agreements that the GASC unilaterally and unlawfully made back in the day with regional countries , is seems as if the GASC is trying to conduct a fait accompli today, as though it is the sole owner of the resources in the region.

The countries of the region have launched operations to seek an alternative route other than Turkey for the transfer of natural gas discovered in the East Mediterranean to consumer countries. It has been observed that they are focusing on different scenarios each time, and constantly keeping alive the East Mediterranean Natural Gas Pipe Line project, which is an alternative route to Turkey.

As Turkey has a suitable route due to its geographical position, and they perceive as a threat, they do not refrain from persistently presenting alternative scenarios even though it is not economic.

The U.S. reaction to drilling operations launched by Turkey shows that efforts are being carried out to establish a new balance in the region.

What is Turkey going to do?

Turkey should further accelerate its exploration operations in the upcoming period to discover the natural gas reserves – which is its right. Natural gas reserves to be found in the Eastern Mediterranean are considered an extremely important step in both the development of economies and increased welfare in the region, as well as a shift in the natural gas equation.

Turkey already had the upper hand of being the most optimal route in transferring sources in the East Mediterranean to date. It is quite clear that it will take on a much different position now with the likelihood of reaching the status of being a producer country.

This will perhaps be the sole solution to Turkey’s high energy bills and reducing fragility against foreign shocks in the economy.

Hence, the prescription to eliminate Turkey’s foreign dependency on energy will be written together with the natural gas reserves to be discovered in the East Mediterranean.

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