At the beginning of 2019, Egypt, the Southern Cyprus administration, Greece, Jordan, Israel and Palestine struck a deal in Cairo to form a East Mediterranean Gas Forum with the goal of establishing a regional natural gas market and building cooperation centered around energy.
Energy ministers of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum’s members, including Israel, Italy, Egypt, Southern Cyprus Greek Administration and Palestine, attended the forum’s second meeting in Cairo last week.
In addition to the members of the forum, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, UN director-general of the Directorate-General for Energy Dominique Ristori and representatives of the the World Bank were in attendance.
Hence, the U.S., UN and World Bank overtly support a regional gas market being formed regarding drilling and the transferal of resources.
The fact that Turkey, which has a coast to the East Mediterranean, and Northern Cyprus, which owns hydrocarbon resources of the island of Cyprus, weren’t invited to join this forum is highly suspicious.
What is being attempted through the East Mediterranean Forum?
Obviously, this forum, which includes multiple stakeholders and international actors, has a wide range of objectives.
It can clearly be seen that with the discovery of energy reserves in the East Mediterranean, a new energy equation has been established in the region.
While the above-mentioned countries set up this equation, by estranging Ankara, they worked on developing natural gas policies sans Turkey, which is a major regional actor when it comes to natural gas exploration and transferal of resources.
They want to kill the discussion of Turkey’s goal to become a “hub of energy trade” by hindering Ankara from having a say in natural gas explorations, production and transfer.
On the other hand, following the establishment of a natural gas market, efforts are being made to form an OPEC-like international organization to control this said market.
In fact, members of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum are constantly articulating their commitment to promote the forum to the level of global organizations.
Of course, we have to highlight that one of their main priorities through this forum is to dispute the claims Turkey and Northern Cyprus have in the East Mediterranean.
We can clearly see that the Greek Cypriot administration and Greece are continuously striving toward this end through the EU.
There are high expectations that, with the contribution of an energy union, this forum will serve as a catalyst to build economic and political cooperation in the East Mediterranean.
The fact that this forum is taking place with the presence of attendees of the EU, U.S. and World Bank; that the EU is supporting hydrocarbon explorations in disputed areas of the East Med initiated by Southern Cyprus in the name of ensuring the security of its own energy supply is a usurpation of Turkey’s and Northern Cyprus’s rights.
Will the East Med Gas Forum reach its goal?
Time will tell if the natural gas forum will reach its goals. However, it is indisputable that Turkey is superior in transferring natural gas to international markets: this here is an extremely significant factor.
Even though member countries of the gas forum have highlighted LNG as an alternative to the Turkey route to transport the discovered natural gas, it is expected that Turkey will turn the tables on the energy equation whether it be with its high conduit potential due to its geographical location or the reserves it will be in possession of with its drilling activities.