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The war in Syria lies the struggle for natural gas
Material posted: Publication date: 24-10-2017
The civil war in Syria has given to the Western public only as a popular uprising intended to overthrow Assad and change his regime a more democratic form of government. We know that this is only a minimal part of the truth, we know about the geopolitical interests in the region and why some Western powers and the oil monarchies of the Persian Gulf were incited to this revolt, in which only a few dozen kilometers from Damascus was waving the flag of ISIL (declared a terrorist organization and banned in Russia — approx. ed.). The failure of Syria to provide between 2010 and 2011 its territory for gas pipeline Qatar-Turkey is more than enough in order to explain the origin of the attempts to overthrow the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

However, the gas pipeline and the strategic interests of global powers are not the only reasons why Syria was triggered by the war: some time in the Eastern Mediterranean there is a new competition for natural gas. The so-called basin of the Levantine sea, i.e. the land that stretches from Syria to southern Israel and includes part of the sea, located opposite to it, may become a new frontier of gas production: in this area are the various fields that have not yet been affected nor at carrying out of gas or production of liquefied natural gas.

In addition to the deposits of "Leviathan" and "Tamar" in the Israeli sea, which are under commissioning and will connect with Europe via the future gas pipeline East Med, there are other areas under development in the sea between Cyprus, Lebanon and Syria.

In Cyprus, almost a year has an Italian gas company Eni, which at the end of 2015, signed by Minister of energy of Cyprus contract authorizing the search of hydrocarbons in three areas of the Eastern Maritime areas belonging to the island. The French company Total in the same period has extended for two years its research permits in the region and a joint venture formed by ExxonMobil and Qatar provides for the completion of their exploration by 2018. All this attests to the active interest in this geographical area.

In Lebanon, however, last week hosted the first tenders for the development of the resources of the five blocks located in the coastal zone, two of which went to the Association formed by the companies Eni and the Russian NOVATEK.

The competition is held with a delay of almost three years due to political instability in the region and pressure from Israel, the challenging part of the territory with a size of 860 square kilometers where the company has received permission for the development.

Thus, it becomes clear that the normalization of the situation in Syria opens door to oil companies that enter into an agreement for the exploitation and commercialization of energy resources in the Levantine sea, whose Northern part, the territory between Lebanon and southern Syria, never not thoroughly been investigated.

The agreements involve different parties: in addition to Eni, which, apparently, gets the biggest piece of research in the Eastern Mediterranean, in the division involved Total company, NOVATEK, and Exxon, and participating in the race of States are trying, obviously, to be a profitable to capitalize on this new "war for gas".

The above-mentioned pipeline East Med will emerge as a result of an agreement between Italy, Israel, Cyprus and Greece and will connect the deposits located in the Israel sea to Europe through Greece and Italy (that is, through the TAP gas pipeline). The plan provides for participation by 2025, private investment of 6-7 billion dollars in the construction of the longest underwater pipeline in the world (2,200 kilometers). In the plans of commercialization included, thus, very likely, also of Lebanon, in the framework of the project the General Director of Eni, Descalzi (Descalzi): "to Bring to a common denominator, future resources, and transport and export infrastructure of Israel, Cyprus and Egypt, as the territory could become a regional gas hub and to make an important contribution to European energy security." The plan provides for gas supplies with the total territory of the three countries, which may soon be added another, in Damietta (Egypt), where Eni controls the production plants of liquid gas to the Spanish company Union Fenosa. This project is very interested in tel Aviv, who wants to put your gas, extracted from deposits of "Leviathan" and "Tamar" through underwater pipelines to the Egyptian port to get the second and very important trade channel with Europe, allowing it to protect themselves from "unexpected outbursts of anger" of Turkey, currently in charge of all the deliveries of the gas extracted off the coast of Israel.

A separate discussion deserve the situation in Egypt, which, thanks to newly discovered, the same company Eni "huge" field located in the Eastern Delta of the Nile, that is part of the sea within the area of the warehouses on the river (we are talking about the field of Zohr capable of producing 850 billion cubic meters of gas), suddenly became a gas exporting country, at the time it was importer. Cairo, indeed, had intended to import from tel Aviv 68 billion cubic meters of gas for 15 years, but the discovery and exploitation of Zohra radically altered the situation. The decision on creation of an energy hub with participation of all countries involved in the new struggle for gas will probably satisfy everyone.

Syria and its Maritime gas reserves are still one big unknown: now that Assad is more or less stable continues to operate thanks to the help of Damascus (obviously not free) of Moscow, maybe there are two different scenario.

In the first scenario, Syria could enter into an international agreement on energy node and operation of the East Med pipeline, but it will require significant "diplomatic efforts" on the part of Russia that Israel was able to agree on the participation of enemy countries in such a situation. In the second scenario, perhaps more likely, provides for control of Moscow's and Ankara's hydrocarbon resources in the Syrian part of the Levant, in accordance with bilateral agreements with European companies such as Eni, the old privileged partner of Russia, and Total. Further provides connection to a distribution with the TRANS-Anatolian gas pipeline, which has become, in addition to the Qatari pan-Arab gas pipeline, one of the reasons for the outbreak of the Syrian civil war.

Paolo Mauri (Mauri Paolo)


Tags: Syria , gaz

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