16 Jan Establishment of East Mediterranean Gas Forum, paves the way of an ever closer cooperation in East Med
On Monday, 14th January 2019, the energy ministers from seven Eastern Mediterranean countries declared in Cairo, the establishment of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF), which includes Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Israel, Jordan and Palestine, with an objective of the optimal joint exploitation of hydrocarbon resources in the Eastern Mediterranean(http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/321727.aspx).
Cyprus Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis has said that the decision to set up the this international organisation, is of “great importance” for Cyprus and its citizens since it brings Cyprus closer to its goal, which is the optimal and safe exploitation of its hydrocarbon resources.
More specifically, it will accommodate and encourage the EastMed pipeline project, which relates to an offshore/onshore natural gas pipeline, directly connecting East Mediterranean resources to Greece via Cyprus and Crete (https://www.edison.it/en/eastmed-pipeline).
The pipeline would allow Israel and Cyprus to export their recently discovered offshore reserves to Italy and eventually to the rest of Europe (https://abcnews.go.com/beta-story-container/International/wireStory/egypt-launches-regional-gas-forum-including-israel-fold-60367181).
Regarding the EMGF, in statement from the Egyptian petroleum ministry, this establishment aims to boost the gas market in the region. Specifically, the Egyptian Oil Minister Tarek El-Molla, stated that “the purpose of this Cairo-based forum is to unify policies and maximize the benefits through the cooperation between these countries” and “how to benefit and complete each other” (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-13/israeli-energy-minister-to-attend-regional-gas-forum-in-egypt).
In line with the Cairo Declaration, the ministers present also “stressed their commitment to paving the way for fruitful cooperation in the technical and economic fields, with a view to efficient exploitation of the gas potential in the region” (https://www.pio.gov.cy/assets/pdf/EMGF%20Declaration%20final%2014Jan.pdf).
Also, The Cyprus Energy Minister further proclaimed that the East Mediterranean Gas Forum “sends a message to many recipients and especially to the international community that the countries of the region come together to create a framework in which big hydrocarbon companies could operate and to attract multi–billion investments that are necessary for this industry to work in the region” (https://cyprus-mail.com/2019/01/15/east-mediterranean-gas-forum-bringing-cyprus-closer-to-its-goal-lakkotrypis-says/).
According to Mr. Lakkotrypis, the EMGF provides “a platform for dialogue, possibly for planning the infrastructure needed in the region to render the Eastern Mediterranean more competitive in the global energy sector”.
The aims of the EMGF include establishing a regional gas market that serves the interests of members by providing supply, optimising resource development, rationalising the cost of infrastructure, offering competitive prices and improving trade relations; ensuring supply for members while working on optimal resource development and the efficient use of existing and new infrastructure with competitive pricing and improved trade relations and; strengthening cooperation by creating systematic dialogue and formulating common regional policies on natural gas, amongst others (http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/321727.aspx).
The significance of the EMGF is exemplified by a statement made by Israel’s Minister of Energy, Mr. Yuval Steinitz, who stated “I think this is the most significant economic cooperation between Egypt and Israel since the signing of the peace treaty 40 years ago,” he told The Associated Press. “It brings all of us, Jordan, Israel, Cyprus, Greece, Egypt, the Palestinian authority and Italy, together” (http://www.tribtown.com/2019/01/14/ml-egypt-israel-gas/).
On a final note, the ministers will meet again in the next three or four months whereby in the meantime, each country, will examine a draft charter prepared by Egypt, to govern the work of the organisation.