The Eastern Mediterranean's New Great Game Over Natural Gas

Feb 22, 2018 | 09:30 GMT

Liquefied natural gas flows through an underwater pipeline to Israeli power plants.

A regasification ship, anchored off the coast of Israel in the Mediterranean Sea, facilitates the flow of natural gas to Israeli power plants in 2015.



  • The energy companies exploring the eastern Mediterranean are likely to make more discoveries after finding the massive Zohr natural gas field off Egypt in 2015.
  • The overlapping political disputes of countries in the region — Lebanon, Turkey, Israel, Greece, Egypt and Cyprus — create a complex mosaic that will complicate development. 
  • Each littoral state will seek to use its natural gas potential as a tool of political leverage against its neighbors.

For the energy industry today, few other places present such a complicated chessboard. The eastern Mediterranean has elicited more and more interest from major international oil companies, particularly in the wake of a series of discoveries crowned by the giant Zohr natural gas field off Egypt in 2015. Thanks to the sea's myriad riches, BP, Eni, ExxonMobil and Total have all descended upon the area, yet it has been less than plain sailing. In the past month, Italian oil and gas company Eni has found itself embroiled in two major political disputes -- one between Israel and Lebanon and another between Cyprus and Turkey -- over its activities in the region. With every country intent on using their resources for their own ends, the political challenges facing energy companies are part of the region's underlying complexity and challenges, all of which will likely stymie the development of much of the...

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