East Mediterranean natural gas: Whoever strikes first will win
In the 22nd World Petroleum Congress a large amount of senior guests gave speeches. Their speeches contained messages about understanding energy supplies today and gave predictions about the future. These messages are important because things do not work smoothly in the field of energy and if certain projects are going to reshape international power balances, there will be a high amount of playmaking and complicated relations in store.
For instance, Israel’s Minister of Energy Yuval Steinitz and Minister of Energy and Natural Re- sources Berat Albayrak had an interesting meeting. The guest minister said that Israel will complete the intergovernmental agreement about building a natural gas pipeline that is set to transfer natural gas from Israel to Europe and to Turkey.
The alternative path
However, Minister Steinitz added that there is an alternative path for the transfer of the gas to Europe that is going to arise from Israel’s exclusive economic zone in the East Mediterranean: Israel-South Cyprus-Greece-Italy. He said: “There is enough gas for both of the pipelines.”
Even if they find enough gas resources to support both projects, these routes are in opposition to each other. That is to say, big projects that are going to change transboundary, regional and global power balances progress in a large competition when in the process of being projects. But, when one of them starts to be realized, the rules are changed. In other words, the project that is not realized should be rehandled from top to bottom.
It is here that the delicate balance can breakdown. The source of the energy is sturdy enough but there is only one market for consumption. If this market provides enough custom, it is hard for other players to be sold gas there. This means setting up a pipeline for a gas supply with few customers is going to be much more difficult.
Turkey should strike the dig
In this case, if Turkey wants to bring Israel’s gas and transfer the gas to Europe in the long run, it should be first to strike the dig. That is because even if the pipelines are built far away from each other they can still push one another figuratively.