Eastern Med countries launch new gas forum

The energy ministers of seven countries launched a new Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum earlier this week to create a regional gas market.

The forum’s members include Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, the organisation will have its headquarters in Cairo. Egypt’s petroleum minister, Tarek El-Molla, said the forum will aim to: “Transform the Eastern Mediterranean into a major energy hub and the establishment of a sustainable partnership between the actors at all stages of the gas industry.”

He added that the seven countries will work together to create a regional gas market that optimises resource development, improves trade relations and rationalises the cost of infrastructure. Israel’s Energy Minister, Yuval Steinitz, made the first visit by an Israeli minister to Egypt since 2011 to launch the forum.

Steinitz said: “This is further proof that developing our offshore gas fields not only has economic and environmental results but also has major diplomatic and geopolitical significance. We are talking about the most significant ever economic cooperation between Egypt and Israel since the peace agreement was signed.”.

Haaretz reports that in September, Israel and Egypt bought a 39 per cent stake in the EMG pipeline, paving the way for a landmark $15 billion natural gas export deal to begin this year. Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi said that his country “scored a goal” making the deal. It is believed that the deal will create an undersea natural gas pipeline to be built between Egypt and Israel that will allow Israel to export increasing quantities of gas to Europe, via its Arab neighbour. The article estimates that the Mediterranean basin could hold up to 10 trillion cubic meters of undiscovered gas.