On September 2, the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) hosted a roundtable discussion on the prospects for Eastern Mediterranean gas with Anastasios Giamouridis, senior consultant at Pöyry Management Consulting and Sir Michael Leigh, senior advisor at GMF. The discussion was moderated by Kristine Berzina, GMF transatlantic fellow.
In his introductory remarks, Sir Michael outlined the preconditions for successful energy development in the Eastern Mediterranean region. He stressed that a clear vision of the main goals by national authorities, sound energy governance structures, and a stable investment climate are crucial as investment decisions are based on economic and commercial viability, not on geopolitics. In addition, he commented on Italian multinational oil and gas company ENI’s recent discovery of a major gas field offshore Egypt, which changes the energy picture in the Eastern Mediterranean. The significant increase in Egypt's own proven reserves will require Cyprus and Israel to look carefully at export markets, including the prospect for exports to and through Turkey. As prospects for a settlement on the division of Cyprus are improving, exports from Cyprus and from Israel to Turkey might start to look more politically feasible (more analysis on this).
Anastasios Giamouridis presented the main conclusions and recommendations of the paper he co-authored with enalytica’s Nikos Tsafos on the merits of project finance and corporate finance for the development of Eastern Mediterranean gas and for bringing the gas to market. He argued that project finance fits well with gas project development needs in the region. European public sector financing can play an important role as a catalyst for private sector investments, through the European Investment Bank and other instruments. Reinforcing Sir Michael’s argument, Giamouridis stressed that that sufficient regulatory certainty is crucial for potential investors and lenders, including tax, export, and competition regimes, and contract sanctity.