Toward an Eastern Mediterranean Integrated Gas Infrastructure?
This paper puts forward the outline of a proposal for an Eastern Mediterranean Integrated Gas Infrastructure. This proposal, while seemingly idealistic, is in fact pragmatic, taking as its point of departure existing pipelines and LNG plants. The proposal is scalable, setting out what could be accomplished now and what could be developed in the medium to long term if conditions permit. The author identifies an important role for the United States and the European Union in bringing the project to fruition. At a time of increased tension and violence in Syria and other countries in the broader Middle East, it may appear unrealistic to propose an initiative designed to promote regional cooperation on energy infrastructure in the Eastern Mediterranean. Energy cooperation requires a modicum of trust and cannot replace political moves to resolve international conflict. Yet even the most tenacious conflicts eventually end or, at least, subside. It is timely to consider how regional cooperation could help to optimize the potential benefits of offshore gas discoveries for the peoples in countries bordering the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. This paper considers what regional cooperation on infrastructure and related matters might look like, assuming, however improbable at present, that long-standing political conflicts are overcome or, at least, stabilized. This paper is also an invitation to authorities in neighboring states, as well as the EU and the United States, to reflect on an innovative collaborative approach.