Israel’s Natural Gas Deposits in the Mediterranean Sea Boosts Regional Relations

July 18, 2019

by:  Edgar Asher

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The Heerema oil and gas rig off the northern coast of Israel

Thursday, 18 July 2019 | Natural gas and oil have been found in the Eastern Mediterranean that gives countries in the region both an independence in energy production and the bonus of being able to export this surplus energy to countries far away from the source of this undersea wealth.

When the modern State of Israel was founded in 1948, the idea that Israel would be known some fifty years later as the “start-up nation,” or that there would be huge deposits of natural gas under the Eastern Mediterranean was unthinkable. However, this little “start-up nation” did have huge natural gas reserves within its territorial water. So much so that part of these reserves could be exported to countries far away from its shores.

The discovery of natural gas also helped to improve relations between Israel and Greece, Israel and Cyprus and Israel and Egypt. As far as Israel, Greece and Cyprus are concerned, the three countries will benefit for many years into the future by the selling of natural gas to Europe. This will be facilitated by a pipeline from the depths of the Eastern Mediterranean to customers all over Europe, via a land connection across Greece and Cyprus.

Israel wants to continue to explore for further natural gas deposits, and possibly oil resources in its offshore economic zone. However, in Israel’s northern sector there exists a dispute between Lebanon and Israel over the border of the economic zone in the Mediterranean Sea off the two countries’ coasts. Currently the United States is mediating between the two protagonists to settle the matter. It is to be hoped that there will be an agreement between the two countries over the disputed area in the not too distant future.

Another area of dispute is between Turkey and Cyprus. In 1974 Turkey invaded northern Cyprus and declared the area as the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.”   Ankara reasoned that most Cypriots living in the breakaway north were of Turkish origin and as far as Turkey was concerned it was the clear desire of the northern Cypriot residents to ally themselves to Turkey. This situation has never been accepted by the European Union [EU] and in particular Greece and the rest of Cyprus.

Despite this situation Turkey is sending an oil drilling platform to search for gas and oil off the northern coast of Cyprus—an area regarded by the EU as the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of Cyprus. The immediate response by the EU is to sanction Turkey.

In the meantime, it is business as usual off the coast of Haifa as an oil and gas rig owned by the Dutch company Heerema Marine Contractors will begin to prepare for a new rig to release the undersea bonanza.

Hopefully the incredible energy possibilities will overcome the illogical wrath of the Eastern Mediterranean countries. In general, former enemies, Israel and Egypt, have managed to have a modus operandi as far as energy supplies are concerned.    Relations nowadays between Israel, Greece and Cyprus could not be better. The role of Turkey in Eastern Mediterranean matters is very uncertain. The present regime is very belligerent with a dictatorial leader. The Turkish administration is angered with its rejection by the EEC to become a member of the alliance. Thus, the Turks look towards Russia to improve its domination in the region. The Russians will be happy to assist.

Perhaps the huge deposits of natural gas will be the carrot that is needed to reconcile Israel and Lebanon.

Posted on July 18, 2019

Source: (This press release was originally published by Ashernet on July 17, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: Ashernet