Cairo Based Forum seeks to promote the development of a sustainable regional gas market, and unlock the full gas resource potential in the region for the benefit and welfare of its people.
It brings together founder members Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan and Palestine, and is supported by the EU, World Bank, USA and France, which has applied for whole membership.
The EU, which has observer status, has provided technical and financial support, given the potential of the region to make main contribution to its diversity of supply.
Investor interest in East Mediterranean gas has climbed since Eni’s discovery in 2015 of the 30 Tcf supergiant Zohr field offshore Egypt, the development of which has played a great role in restoring Egypt’s self-sufficiency in gas. Cyprus and Israel have also made significant discoveries in recent years, with Israel’s Leviathan field coming onstream in 2019.
Peaking at the EGYPS webinar, HE Tarek El Molla, Egypt’s Minister of Petroleum & Mineral Resources, praised the event as a “historic day for the gas industry in the region”, heralding an era of cooperation. He commented on the potential of the exploitation of the Eastern Mediterranean’s gas resources in promoting regional economic development as well as peace and social welfare.
He added that without the commitment and support of the countries’ leaders, the initiative would not have seen the light of day, and added that the organisation would welcome further applications for membership and observer status.
The Forum would “optimise the energy we have in our countries, whether, producing, transit or consuming countries,” the Minister said. It would strengthen unilateral and bilateral relations between members as well as between the organisation itself and other organisations. He gave as examples the agreement between Egypt and Cyprus for a pipeline bringing gas from the Aphrodite field to Egypt’s LNG plants, between Egypt and Greece for a maritime economic zone, and MoUs between Egypt and Jordan for a gas export pipeline and co-operation in energy.
While with Israel, the pipeline that used to export gas from Egypt to Israel, is now being used to import gas from Israel. He added that Egypt is in talks with Palestine and Israel to develop the Gaza Marine gas field, which was discovered in 2000 but has not been developed as a result of tensions between Israel and Palestine.
The Minister said that together with Egypt’s Gas Industry Advisory Committee, the Forum would identify and put forward potential projects and ideas for cooperation, and underlined the importance of being able to monetise the resources for the benefit of the companies developing them and the countries concerned. “We will soon see important projects to create benefits and add value to our countries,” he said.
Commenting on the role of technology, the Minister said Egypt is using the latest seismic technologies such as seismic shorting, which is enabling new prospects to be seen which had not been possible before with traditional technologies. The country is working with service companies to optimise brownfield production, and is improving fiscal terms. Egypt is also focusing on digitalising its systems to provide complete connectivity and integration from the wellhead to the petrol pump. The entire value chain is being connected piece by piece, a process which is expected to be concluded at the end of 2021, he said.