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IBRU: Centre for Borders Research

Boundary news

Boundary news Headlines

Gas field discoveries increase stakes in Mediterranean maritime border dispute

(8 October 2015)

The overlapping maritime borders in the Mediterranean between Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Greece and Cyprus could become a greater source of regional tension, according Ibrahim Zahran, the former chairman of Khalda Petroleum Company. Zahran noted that, “Israel has six discoveries in the Mediterranean region, most of which fall in the disputed areas between Lebanon and Syria. Cyprus has discoveries in a common basin with Egypt and Israel.”

Gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean has revealed gas reserves in excess of 122 trillion cubic feet, according to the US Geological Survey, but the lack of boundary demarcation has added uncertainty to exploration activities. The 2014 Cairo Declaration between Egypt, Cyprus, and Greece resulted in resumed negotiations over demarcation of the maritime boundary between Egypt and Cyprus and between Egypt and Greece, but the efforts of these three countries to halt Turkish gas exploration in the disputed areas were rebuffed. Meanwhile, the US has been mediating discussions between Lebanon, Israel and Cyprus. Israel and Cyprus have signed a demarcation convention but Lenanon, Turkey, and Egypt have rejected the agreement.

Despite the diplomatic efforts to resolve the disputed boundaries, some are not convinced that border demarcation will solve the conflict. Former deputy president of the Egyptian energy planning department of the Ministry of Planning Hamed Qarqar said that, “The border demarcation will not be sufficient to put an end to the conflict over the gas discoveries in the Mediterranean, as the underground gas and oil reservoirs in this area are located at varying depths and [some] reserves span [international borders].”


New gas fields add more heat to already simmering Mediterranean, 6 October 2015, by Walaa Hussein for Al Monitor,