The Potential of Natural Gas Offshore Gaza for Regional Stability and the Middle East Peace Process
GMF's Eastern Mediterranean Energy Project hosted a roundtable event titled, “Natural Gas in the Palestinian Authority: The Potential of the Gaza Marine Offshore Field,” on March 31. Simon Henderson, Baker Fellow and director, Gulf and Energy Policy Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, presented his report during the event, which examines the opportunities and challenges of the Gaza Marine field.
After Mr. Henderson’s presentation of his report, the floor opened up for a discussion moderated by Sir Michael Leigh, senior advisor at GMF. Experts from the government, private, and non-profit sector were all represented and engaged in the discussion.
The conversation focused on the economic potential of the Gaza Marine field bearing in mind the political and commercial challenges on the ground for its exploitation. Even though the Palestinian Authority (PA) granted a 25-year exploration license to the BG Group in 1999, there has not been any progress in developing this gas field. The situation on the ground remains complicated due to the lack of progress in the peace process itself.
It became clear during the discussion that there are multiple obstacles complicating the development of the Gaza Marine field. It was noted that whoever was to develop Gaza Marine would need permission from Israel, The Palestinian Authority, and Hamas. Utilization of the extracted resources would have to be agreed on by all involved parties as Gaza’s electricity and gas grids are closely linked with Israel’s and the gas processing would have to be partially or entirely done in Israel itself. In this case, the PA would have to agree with the Israeli government on the commercial terms. Due to the lack of progress in settling these issues the past, the exploitation of the field would require an extension of the licence agreement, which is other due to expire in 2024. All parties to the original licence would probably take the opportunity to change the commercial aspects of the arrangement.
The discussion concluded with acknowledging that there are many issues related to the development of the Gaza Marine field ranging from commercial prospects to the current political situation. For Gaza Marine to start bringing benefits to the Palestinian people, Israel, the PA, and Hamas would all have to negotiate and agree to settle some of their issues as mentioned above.
Read the report.