Thursday, July 6, 2017

Ambitions clash in the Eastern Med - NGW MAGAZINE

July 6, 2017 11:00am

Unstable relations between the eastern Mediterranean countries threaten to make long-term gas deals impossible – even if there is enough gas to make them worthwhile.

The gas industry in the eastern Mediterranean has seen a lot of change in the last two years. Chief among the shifts have been:

  • Egypt, which has experienced a severe shortage of natural gas and has become an LNG importer, is returning to self-sufficiency in two or three years;
  • Israel, which has discovered two offshore large gas fields, Tamar and Leviathan, and hopes to become an exporter, is unable to find enough customers for its gas;
  • Cyprus, whose energy needs are relatively small, will become an export powerhouse if the majors such as ExxonMobil, Total and [ENI], find gas off its shores;
  • Lebanon has launched a new licensing round that brought it into a dispute over maritime areas with Israel;
  • Egypt and Israel have yet to settle their dispute over the $2bn compensation awarded in international arbitration for the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) a dispute which must be resolved if gas relations between the two countries are to advance;
  • and Israel, which has blocked the natural candidates from bidding on the grounds they already have enough market power, was in late June forced to delay once again its licensing round, owing to a lack of interest from foreign companies.
The president of ExxonMobil's upstream division Stephen Greenlee was reported in the Famagusta Gazette saying that Cyprus has the potential to become a regional hub for eastern Mediterranean gas if gas is found.

Greenlee said the company has been active in Cyprus since signing the contracts with Cyprus in April and has begun exploration. Greenlee added that success will lead to great things, adding that together with partner Qatar Petroleum, which has great experience in LNG, the challenges of gas export can be overcome. If Greenlee's vision becomes true, that will enable Cyprus to become a natural gas superpower in its own right.