Egypt advocates business over politics in East Mediterranean

Egypt’s petroleum minister praised the “practical and pragmatic” approach to energy security among countries signed up to the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum.”I think that energy and, specifically now, gas is very important,” Tarek el Molla told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble at the World Energy Congress in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.The forum, which aims to establish a regional gas market and offer more competitive prices, was launched earlier this year. It consists of Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, and the Palestinian Authority, with its headquarters in Cairo.”The people of the region would benefit out of this gas in order to have some prosperity, some welfare and wellbeing. Therefore, to be more practical and pragmatic, we sought to have this forum.”When asked whether the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum was an example of business interests coming before political differences, El Molla replied: “Exactly.”Hit by revolution and terrorist attacks from 2011 onward, Egypt ceased exporting its gas for several years, but has now made a comeback, becoming a key player in what many energy experts have called the “Eastern Mediterranean gas gold rush.”Cairo is expected to become a net gas exporter by the end of 2019 and the country has seen widespread interest in its natural gas potential — particularly after the success of Egypt’s Zohr gas field, an offshore natural gas field in the Mediterranean Sea operated by Italian energy firm Eni.Speaking about the potential of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum, El Molla said: “At the end of the day, this business opportunity would be good for the people. So, I think that each country (will) play in the interests of its people.”

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