Natural gas basins could turn the Mediterranean into a “sea of prosperity”

Natural gas basins could turn the Mediterranean into a “sea of prosperity,” but there is a risk that politics may hamper economic progress, the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned.

“The biggest problem in the eastern Mediterranean is not the existence of reserves, it is the potential that politics may supersede the economy,” Fatih Birol, the IEA’s chief economist, told daily Hürriyet.

“If this settles down, I believe eastern Mediterranean gas will raise the prosperity of regional countries and could become an important alternative to Russian gas,” he said.

There is now considerable evidence showing that more than 3 trillion cubic meters of gas is present in the eastern Mediterranean.

The rich natural gas fields discovered in the eastern Mediterranean have been engendering excitement in all countries of the region.

Cyprus discovered an average of 7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in December 2011 in one field offshore, close to where Israel reported major finds within its own maritime boundaries.

Encouraged by Cyprus’ and Israel’s impressive oil and gas reserve findings, Lebanon has decided to get its share from Mediterranean sources and kicked off the bidding process for offshore oil and gas licenses.

Turkey also wants to take its share and play a role in the trade of these resources.

However, the region has already been the stage for several political conflicts of interests between Israel, Turkey, Lebanon, Greece and Cyprus, and the gas race seems unlikely to settle down anytime soon.

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