Discovery of Energy Reserves in the Levant and Impacts on Regional Security


Gareth M. WINROW*


There has been much discussion over whether the recent discovery of energy reserves in the eastern Mediterranean will encourage regional cooperation or exacerbate tensions between states in the Levant. Energy issues and geopolitical concerns do overlap. Difficulties with regard to Cyprus and Israel’s ties with its Arab neighbours jeopardize energy projects. Cooperation between states over energy resources may only occur if governments enjoy reasonable relations. Energy companies are eager to make profits, and so increasing attention will focus on how gas reserves in the Levant region may be developed and monetized, with gas exported to outside markets. Longstanding problems concerning the exploitation of gas reserves in disputed Cypriot offshore waters, and strains in Turkish-Israeli relations, may prevent the construction of a gas pipeline connecting Israeli gas fields with the Turkish mainland. Gas may also be exported from Cypriot, Egyptian and Israeli offshore fields to markets in Europe through the proposed EastMed Gas Pipeline or be delivered in the form of liquefied natural gas. Various political, technical and commercial issues need to be addressed before these export projects may be realized, although this would then be at the cost of excluding Turkey from a wider regional framework of cooperation.

Keywords: Gas, Energy, Levant, Geopolitics, Security, Cooperation


* Independent analyst, consultant and part-time tutor, Department of Continuing Education, University of Oxford, UK.