EU Sets Sites on Eastern Mediterranean Gas Plans
By Christopher Coats
Brussels appears to be expanding the number of options it will consider in Europe’s long-running push towards expanding their natural gas options by expressing interest in what the Eastern Mediterranean has to offer. Speaking at a conference in Cyprus just before the New Year, European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger offered a cautious confidence that the Eastern Mediterranean natural gas find could play a part in Europe’s push towards finding cleaner, more secure energy alternatives.
Oettinger’s comments come as a part of the wider European community’s effort to encourage cleaner energy options and those not subject to increasingly unstable political situations. Most notably, the Eastern Mediterranean gas discoveries could offer a viable alternative to Russian reserves – a central goal of Brussels’ energy aims.
The Cyprus setting for the gathering is especially notable as the island EU member state offers Europe the clearest shot at the offshore gas reserves. According to a United States Geological Survey, the Levant Basin, shared by Lebanon, Israel and Cyprus, offers up about 122 trillion cubic feet in recoverable gas and an estimated 1.7 billion barrels of oil. For Cyprus in particular, the Levant offers access to an estimated 5.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas within the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone. According to Reuters, the country’s Industry and Tourism minister Neoclis Sylikiotis suggested they would be able to meet domestic needs with local natural gas by 2017 and earn export revenue by 2019.
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