East Med Gas Forum to reinforce regional ties, increase EU power safety

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Egypt, Israel, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority established the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) as an intergovernmental organisation in a digital ceremony hosted by Cairo this week.

The EMGF can embody any East Med nation and facilitate the exploration of hydrocarbons within the area. Its constitution says that its goal is “to serve as a platform that brings together gas producers, consumers and transit countries to create a shared vision and establish a structured systematic policy dialogue on natural gas”.

But becoming a member of is contingent on a rustic agreeing to EMGF’s most important values and goals, Charles Ellinas, a senior fellow on the Global Energy Center on the Atlantic Council, informed New Europe on September 23, requested if regional rival Turkey may turn into a member. “These include respecting ‘the rights of members with respect to their natural resources in accordance with the principles of international law and certainly through cooperation and without the use of force. This is something that Turkey could not comply with at present,” Ellinas mentioned, noting that success within the forthcoming negotiations with Greece and backbone of the Cyprus downside might open the way in which.

Constantinos Filis, director of analysis at Institute of International Relations, informed New Europe by telephone on September 24 mentioned that from the Greek perspective Turkey isn’t and shouldn’t be excluded. “But due to its policies up until now and the fact that it has deteriorated on purpose its relations with Israel and that it supports the Muslim Brotherhood which complicates situations with Egypt, it seems for now not impossible but not really probable to see Turkey join this forum,” Filis mentioned, reiterating that Greece’s intentions are to not exclude or isolate Turkey. “It’s up to the Turkish leadership to decide whether it wants to play following the rules of the game or play on its own,” he mentioned.

Filis mentioned that there appears to be a slight flip in Turkish international coverage. “It seems that diplomacy is prevailing be it due to economic reasons because the Turkish economy right now is in deep trouble or the fact that (Turkish President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan realised that he has overreached his limits in many parts of his foreign policy opening too many fronts at the same time,” he mentioned, noting that Ankara could also be adopting a extra versatile coverage within the area.

Ellinas famous that the EMGF can facilitate cooperation and stability amongst members, however can’t apply strain on Turkey. “So far it has been the other way around. So far, though, it has been ineffective, acting like a talking-shop. Its use has been mostly in terms of regional politics but vague and lacking on practicalities, especially given the region’s burning problems in need of urgent resolution. But now this has the potential to change,” he mentioned.

France has utilized to hitch the Forum whereas the United States and the European Union assist the EMGF and take part as observers. The US and the EU can present invaluable political assist and assist keep coherence and cooperation,” Ellinas mentioned, including that the EU can present technical, regulatory and coverage help.

The US Department of Energy congratulated the members of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum upon signing their constitution in Cairo. “EMGF will help harness the full potential of East Med natural gas and strengthen regional energy security,” the US Department of Energy mentioned in a tweet.

The EMGF is anticipated to facilitate the export of fuel from the East Med area, growing EU power safety and cut back reliance on Russian fuel provides, Filis mentioned. Egypt needs to turn into the power hub within the Eastern Mediterranean whereas Greece and Italy need to transport fuel from the East Med sources to the European market, he mentioned. “From the very beginning the Eastern Mediterranean has been regarded as an alternative to Russia. Not an alternative in terms of quantities but as an extra source that will add up to the EU’s attempt to become more independent from Russian gas,” Filis mentioned.

But Ellinas argued that with international fuel markets anticipated to proceed being fairly aggressive and fuel costs low, fuel exports from the area will proceed being fairly difficult. “The Forum’s aims include commitment to pave the way for a sustainable regional gas market.’ This, if realised, is most important to the future of gas in the region. Regional cooperation through EMGF could facilitate development of regional energy markets, through a combination of gas and renewables, unlocking this potential,” Ellinas mentioned, including, “Otherwise significant benefits from gas might not materialise”.

The digital ceremony on September 22 was attended by Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, Greece’s Environment and Energy Minister Kostis Hatzidakis, Egypt’s Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek El-Molla, Cyprus’ Energy, Commerce and Industry Minister Natasa Pilides, Jordan’s Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jordan Hala Zawati, Italy’s Deputy Economic Development Minister Alessandra Todde and the Palestinian Authority’s Ambassador to Egypt Diab Allouh, Greece’s Environment and Energy Ministry mentioned.

For Israel, the discussion board “brings regional cooperation with Arab and European countries, the first of its kind in history, with contracts to export (Israeli) gas to Jordan and Egypt worth $30 billion, and that is just the beginning,” Reuters quoted Steinitz as saying.

Hatzidakis hailed the institution of the EMGF, noting, “It’s not just the end of a two-year intensive effort to establish the first regional cooperation agency in the region, but above all the beginning of closer intergovernmental cooperation at all levels”.

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