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Six countries formally establish eastern Mediterranean gas forum

22 September 2020

On September 22, six east Mediterranean states signed a charter giving formal status to a Cairo-based gas forum seeking to promote gas exports and cooperation between the countries. The East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) comprises Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, and the Palestinian National Authority.

The EMGF in January - Image: Egypt Ministry of Petroleum
The EMGF in January - Image: Egypt Ministry of Petroleum

The signing took place during a virtual ceremony hosted by Egypt and comes at a time when Turkey continues to be in dispute with Greece and Cyprus over drilling for natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean. 

France has applied to join the EMGF, while the US and EU have applied for observer status, Reuters news agency reports. Reuters quotes Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz as saying the forum will bring cooperation between the countries with contracts worth $30 billion having already been signed to export Israeli gas to Jordan and Egypt.

Egypt began importing gas from Israel at the beginning of 2020. Cairo’s interest in establishing a regional gas forum increased after the discovery of the offshore Zohr gas field in 2015.

At the signing ceremony on September 22, Egyptian petroleum and mineral resources minister Tarek el-Molla said the EMGF was looking forward to further countries joining as either members or observers. 

The EMGF signing comes a week after Turkey announced its intention to send a second drill ship to the Black Sea where the country’s largest ever natural gas discovery was made in August. The drill ship Kanuni will be sent to support the Fatih drill ship which discovered the 320 billion cubic metre natural gas field 100 nautical miles off Turkey’s northern coast.

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