The civil war in Syria appears to be moving to completion. Assad was to take control of the only province of Idlib, after which it will be possible to discuss the postwar reconstruction of the country. However, the Turkish newspaper Yeni Şafak believes that soon the region can flare up is much more fierce fighting on the principle of “all against all”. Compared to them, the Syrian conflict will seem child’s play in the sandbox. Cause — the fight for the newly discovered massive energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Journalist Cymet césaire writes that the Eastern Mediterranean, as recently revealed, is ranked third in the world reserves of natural gas. As a result, the race for this wealth has already started. September 28, Exxon Mobil will begin gazoporshnevye work in the fields declared by the authorities of Cyprus in its exclusive economic zone. In addition, Total, Shell, Eni, Qatargas, Noble Enerji, gradually Kogas plan to start drilling in the region.
Of course, the authorities of the unrecognized Northern Cyprus (and in fact — behind them Ankara) also claim these deposits. Maybe that’s why the Greek Cypriot authorities in advance and allowed France to use air and naval base on the island. On the same Bay and the airfields expect and the United States. Britain already has two military bases in Cyprus.
Yeni Şafak indicates that the concentration of warships from different countries in the region is increasing literally on a weekly basis. “France has kept its warship in the waters of the Eastern Mediterranean. Permanent naval task force of NATO performs tasks in the Mediterranean sea with the participation of three ships, and other member countries are periodically added to the ships as support. The Russian presence in the Mediterranean is also increasing day by day, says Sezer. — Western forces, which is currently taken over 60% of Persian Gulf oil, now apparently settled in the Eastern Mediterranean because of the rich reserves of natural gas.”
Turkey, meanwhile, is also dramatically increased its presence in the Eastern Mediterranean. In February, Ankara has blocked the path of the drill ship of the Italian company Eni, which allegedly acted in breach of her rights. Not allowed to detect on the shelf. The authorities are planning to start gas production on the continental shelf with the Turkish drilling ship “Fatih”.
All this, according to Turkish journalist, can lead to full-fledged military action, because “if the discovered energy resources, starts stabbing. In the Eastern Mediterranean instead of knives warships of many countries”.
The struggle for the Eastern Mediterranean intensified in 2009, when American companies first discovered large natural gas reserves off the coast of Lebanon. Previously, the Mediterranean sea was considered a territory poor in hydrocarbons. Although the first major discovery in the area of the Israeli field “Tamar” with reserves of approximately 200 billion cubic meters — was made in 2001. But after 2009 both U.S. and European companies actively engaged in exploration in the region, and found many promising fields.
In June 2010, the American oil company Noble Energy on the continental shelf of the Mediterranean sea, 135 km West of Haifa discovered the field, which is called the “Leviathan”. The estimate of recoverable gas reserves of 450 billion cubic meters. In the fall of 2011, well A-1 in block 12 in the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus 160 km South of Limassol opened the field, dubbed “Aphrodite”. Recoverable reserves are estimated at 170 billion cubic meters of gas. In 2015, deposits of Zohr near Egypt, with estimated reserves of up to 850 billion cubic meters.
Interest in the development of the Levantine basin showed the world’s largest gas company. Noble Energy, Cyprus in addition to working on the Israeli fields. “Sohr” develop Eni, “Rosneft” and BP.
Syria, incidentally, is also going to produce gas on the shelf. At the end of 2017, the Minister of petroleum and natural resources of the Arab Republic Ali Ghanem said that the gas will be extracted in early 2019. According to him, Damascus has already agreed contracts for the extraction of fuel from “friendly countries”. Probably one of those friendly countries is Russia.
31 January 2018 Moscow and Damascus signed a “road map” for energy cooperation. The document “provides for the phased implementation of strategically important projects for the rehabilitation, modernization and construction of new power facilities in Syria”. According to the US Geological survey, on the Syrian shelf may lie up to 700 billion cubic meters of gas is two times more than in the mainland.
In February 2018 has intensified its efforts on the development of offshore Lebanon. The right to search for gas received by the Russian company NOVATEK, in consortium with Total and Eni. According to the expectations of the Lebanese authorities, in their exclusive economic zone is overlain by about 700 billion cubic meters of gas. The problem is that the part of the continental shelf in this area claim, and Israel. The defense Minister of Israel Avigdor Lieberman stressed that the test piece of the shelf “in all our standards”.
Turkey, as has been said, also trying not to lag behind neighbours in the region. “To seek out and explore these resources — our sovereign right,” said the Minister of foreign Affairs of Turkey Mevlut Cavusoglu, in an interview to Greek newspaper “Kathimerini”. At the end of 2017 Turkey became the first modern drilling ship Deepsea Metro II.
“This is a powerful factor conflict potential in the region”, — said in an interview with RT the impact of the oil and gas factor on policies of the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean lecturer, HSE Grigoriy Lukyanov. — Those States that were not gas and oil giants that now represent a threat to prevailing in the region socio-economic and political relations.”
Leading expert of the national energy security Fund Igor Yushkov considers that the risk of military conflict because of the deposits from the region before it’s too real. Moreover, the proven reserves may not be so great. For comparison, the proven gas reserves in Russia amount to 49.5 trillion cubic meters. Last year “Gazprom” has exported to only one in Europe 194,4 billion cubic meters of gas.
— At least premature to say that the gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean are huge and occupy third place in the world, — says Igor Yushkov. — We have seen the experience of Israel, Cyprus and Greece to study the shelf. Yet large-scale production occurs only outside of Israel. And on the shelves in Greece and Cyprus the expected inventory substantially reduced after there work was done.
Literally five years ago formed a “triple Alliance” of Israel, Greece and Cyprus, who went around the world, all energy and business conference and was told that they have huge reserves of gas, encouraging to invest money in their projects. They were supported by a lobby of companies that did research on the shelf. They claimed that according to preliminary data there are huge reserves, enough to last the whole of Europe and no import no longer will need.
In fact, it was a marketing ploy — to declare huge stocks and to get investors. And then these investors know that the reality is much more modest. Sold the company’s shrugged and referred to the fact that the cited preliminary data, and no one is immune from the fact that stocks will be much less. I think now we see the same story.
The role played by the fact that in one version of the war in Syria broke out because of the oil and gas component. In reality, it is only one factor. Before the start of the military conflict the resources of Syria were under natural depletion. Its reserves are not so large to conduct for them a war, they will last only for domestic consumption.
“SP”: — That is a military conflict over gas region is not threatened?
— I don’t think that will ignite a real war for resources in the Eastern Mediterranean. Though, because quite reckless to assume that these fields can only win, and then to develop and sell. The maximum that can be done is to destroy the infrastructure and not to allow others to sell gas. If you make a chaos, then these stocks nobody gets. Such a scenario is possible.
But, I repeat, so far the only country that started the offshore production is Israel and Egypt. Lebanon is holding a series of licenzirovanie, but he has a dispute with Israel on the accessory shelf, therefore, these projects are quite adventurous. As for the other countries — it’s more like fanning the hype.
Director of the research center International Institute of the newest States Stanislav Tarasov also believes that the energy issue is not in charge of the fate of the region.
The situation in the middle East and Eastern Mediterranean is very confusing. It can not understand the best analysts in the world. It is easier to seek some kind of logistics in conflict, explaining its pipelines, oil pipelines, or the Chinese Silk road. This skewer is threaded a complex set of events, and it turns out to somehow explain what is happening.
The problem is that all of these pipelines and the silk road can be easily traced only on the map. If you look at the routes on the ground — where such events occur, to ensure the security of supply can only be transiting through the moon or the planet Mars.
In recent years, after it was announced that off the coast of Cyprus discovered large deposits of natural gas, the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean has escalated. Although scientists assumed the presence of resources since the late 60’s-early 70-ies. But this topic somehow didn’t come up. It began to remember after the appearance of the factor of the Arab spring, the Syrian crisis. Greece, Cyprus, Israel said it was ready to develop its fields.
But the fact is that although there really is gas, its reserves are not proven. Gas Terra Incognita. Companies make different predictions, and there is even a suspicion that the use of abandoned false geological map and results of the geological exploration conducted in previous years. Such peaks are of interest to the gas is always linked to the aggravation of the situation in the region.
The true motivation of escalation in the middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean need to look elsewhere. This geopolitical game between the great powers, the construction of a new world order. And research and development on the continental shelf of Greece, Cyprus and Israel are important, but secondary. These countries use the gas argument in order to strengthen its position in the international arena and to solve their problems. To use these energy resources only if in the region will be stable and sustainable status quo. But now, far from it.
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