East Mediterranean Gas Forum formally established with headquarters in Egypt

Ahram Online , Tuesday 22 Sep 2020

The establishment of the Forum comes amid tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean over Ankara's hunt for gas in violation of the territorial waters of Greece and Cyprus


Six energy ministers, including from Egypt, signed the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) charter on Tuesday, establishing a vital platform that brings together gas producers, consumers and transit states to boost a sustainable regional market for gas.

According to a joint statement, Egypt’s petroleum ministry hosted on Tuesday the signing ceremony of the Middle East energy forum – which will have its headquarters in Cairo – via teleconference with the participation of the seven ministers.

The forum’s members are Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan.

The forum was formed in January 2019 to "create a regional gas market, optimise resource development, cut the cost of infrastructure, offer competitive prices and improve trade ties.”

The EMGF will set “a shared vision and systematic and regulated dialogue over natural gas policies… to maximise the region’s resources.”

“The EMGF fully respects the rights of its members in their natural resources under international law, and supports efforts to invest their reserves and their use of current and future infrastructure for gas through effective cooperation with gas industry parties,” it said.

The statement said that EMGF is open for membership submissions by any state in the Eastern Mediterranean, and any other state or regional or international organisation as an observer.

It said it valued support provided by international parties and organisations including the European Union (EU) and World Bank (WB).

In a separate statement, Egypt’s Petroleum Minister Tarek El-Molla said that turning the forum into an international governmental organisation in the region gives momentum to establishing a body that aims to bolster cooperation and dialogue over natural gas.

He affirmed the importance of member countries’ role in finalising the charter in a record time of only 20 months, and establishing the forum’s bodies despite the unstable global circumstances.

“EMGF countries have succeeded in making history and contribute together to pushing peace,” he said.

The signing of the charter comes amid tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean region over Ankara's hunt for gas in the region in violation of the territorial waters of Greece and Cyprus, two close allies of Egypt.

Conflict further heightened after Egypt and Greece signed a maritime demarcation deal in August establishing an exclusive economic zone between the two countries, sparking an angry response from Turkey.

However, Greece signalled on Monday a resumption of talks with Turkey over maritime zones, after Ankara retracted an oil and gas exploration vessel from the disputed area.

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