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East Mediterranean news roundup

Progress is being made on a number of deals in the East Mediterranean, which looks set to open up new trade routes across the region.

Turkey and Israel are leading the way in forging relationships and boosting production, with Greece, Bulgaria and Lebanon each aiming to boost their market footprint and expand the area's global presence in the oil and gas sphere.


Greece vital to Bulgarian gas plans, says deputy PM

Tomislav Donchev, the Bulgarian deputy prime minister, has announced in an interview with Trend that his country is ready to become a transit nation for Azeri gas. However, for these plans to succeed Bulgaria needs an interconnector with Greece, making the country vital to Mr Donchev's energy plans.

“Bulgaria has a number of projects for cooperation with Azerbaijan in the energy sphere,” he said. “But first it is necessary to build the interconnector to implement them.” He added that he hopes this will be resolved as soon as possible.


Israel and Lebanon's offshore gas plans will not clash

Israel has recently announced plans to further develop some of its offshore gas fields, and many Lebanese firms expressed concerns that this would lead to increased competition and a clash of interests. However, director of Crystol Energy Carole Nakhle has asserted that this will not be the case, and Israel's plans won't affect Lebanon's intention to sell gas from its own reserves.

Ms Nahke pointed out that Lebanon had an advantage over Israel in that it was more likely to attract investors from Middle Eastern nations. She added that "big oil companies won’t be much encouraged to invest there out of fear of a hostile reaction from Arab countries". Furthermore, Israel's best prospect for exporting gas would be to Egypt, although the nation has just discovered its own reserves.


SOCAR to resume talks with Greece over gas grid

The Greek gas grid operator DESFA has been in negotiation with SOCAR - the Azeri state energy company - for some time regarding the purchasing of a stake in the former by the latter. While talks had recently stalled, they are expected to resume in December according to SOCAR's CEO Rovnag Abdullayev.

The Azeri organisation wants to acquire a 66 per cent stake in DESFA, and Mr Abdullayev said the firm did not expect this to change. He added: "We are waiting for results of the early parliamentary election in Greece and will be discussing this issue with a new Greek government in December."


Turkish Stream deal to be signed in 2016?

After the announcement that construction of the Turkish Stream pipeline has been put on hold, positive news has come from talks between Russia and Turkey. The two nations have said that the pipeline will be delayed until a deal can be signed, and it is expected that this will occur once Turkey's general election is over in November 2016.

The pipeline will carry 63 bcm of natural gas under the Black Sea, while over 15 bcm will go directly to Turkey. However, the current Turkish government has not been able to agree with Russia on a price for the gas, which is why negotiations have stalled. Once a new government has formed in Turkey, they can resume.


Israel announces oil discovery in Golan heights

Afek Oil and Gas, a leading Israeli energy company, has announced that it is requesting an extension of its exploration license after discovering an oil reservoir in the north of Israel. The firm has been exploring the Golan Heights region near the borders of Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, and the most recent drilling project has uncovered evidence of oil.

In the request submitted to the government, Afek stated: “Initial findings from the drilling confirm the discovery of an oil reservoir in the Golan and further justifies continuing the exploration program. We need more time for this.” The company is a subsidiary of Genie Energy, a US-based firm.


Turkey to import gas from Kurdistan from 2017

A pipeline that will export gas from the Iraqi Kurdistan region to Turkey is scheduled to begin operations in 2017, according to representatives from the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) Ministry of Natural Resources. The region believes it can supply a significant amount of the gas that Europe needs.
The KRG already transports oil to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, and it hopes to export its gas via pipeline to Turkey in a similar manner. It believes that it can then fulfil up to 30 per cent of Europe's demands for the resource, as the region has approximately 5.7 tcm in gas reserves.

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