East Med Gas Forum Members Sign Charter
Six East Mediterranean states signed a charter on September 22 formalising the status of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF), a body that aims to develop regional gas supply.
EMGF's members are Egypt, Israel, Greece, Cyprus, Italy and Jordan. The Palestinian Authority also has representation, Israel's government said in a statement announcing the signing. France has also requested to join, and the EU and US are seeking observer status.
The forum "brings regional cooperation with Arab and European countries; the first of its kind in history," Israel's energy minister Yuval Steinitz said in a statement.
Israel started exporting gas to Jordan and Egypt from the giant offshore Leviathan field this year, under contracts which Steinitz said were worth $30bn. Cyprus has also made offshore discoveries, and together with Israel is promoting the development of the 1,900-km EastMed pipeline that would pump up to 10bn m3 of their gas annually to Europe. Greece and Italy have signalled interest in buying these supplies.
Egypt too has found a number of gas fields in recent years and wants to build up its exports.
Notably absent from EMGF is Turkey, a geopolitical rival of many of the forum's members. Turkey has strained its international ties by repeatedly drilling in waters recognised as belonging to Cyprus.