The Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum Reinforces Current Regional Dynamics

Source: Arab Center Washington DC

Author(s): Joe Macaron

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On January 14, the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) was inaugurated in Cairo, triggering the region’s official transition from oil dependence to the era of gas production. The ongoing geopolitical and economic calculations of the Eastern Mediterranean gas discovery in 2009 have shaped new alliances and rekindled old enmities. However, the initial hope that this offshore gas discovery would lead to an inclusive regional cooperation or integration has waned; indeed, the EMGF alliance seems to mirror the current regional status quo.

Egypt hosted the energy ministers of Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan, and Palestine to form the EMGF, which represents the first time Arab states embrace Israel in a regional alliance and continues the recent trend of normalizing Arab relations with it. The EMGF primarily provides a forum between Eastern Mediterranean gas exporters (Cyprus, Egypt, and Israel) and European gas importers, with Greece and Italy as the conduits to Europe. The Cairo Declaration hoped that the EMGF would potentially lead “to the development of a sustainable regional gas market.”

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