25 Oct

Israel’s offshore Tamar and Leviathan gas fields in Eastern Mediterranean Sea have a significant discovery in order to meet Europe’s rising gas and energy need. Europe’s energy dependence to Russia has been known as the top discussed energy issue over the years, yet a problem needed to be solved or find an alternative gas pipeline route because Europe do not want to rely on Russian Gas anymore. Considering Middle East situation and Turkey’s geopolitical position, transmission of the Leviathan gas through Turkey seems to be best way to locate pipeline routes.

Europe’s Natural Gas Dependence and the Role of Turkey

Although Europe has brought a wind and solar initiative by several directives in order to attract investors’ interest in renewable energy, these initiatives are not enough to meet energy need of Europe and it seems that Europe needs time in order to improve electricity generation from renewables so that it still needs other type of energy resource for electricity generation, heating and its industry.  Today Europe has limited options for finding natural gas supplies from outside of Russia and considering that Russia’s natural gas cut offs due to the Russian – Ukrainian gas crisis and starts to change its natural gas policy by seeking alternative routes to Russian gas pipelines. In this regard, creating a fourth corridor which aims to reduce dependence on Russian gas, the role of Turkey is very significant and critical due to its geopolitical position. Turkey is at the exact center of European countries in which energy demand is considerably high and Middle East and Caucasian Countries which house high volume energy resources particularly oil and natural gas. Indeed, the significance of Turkey’s position has realized by many international oil and gas companies so that invests in import, wholesale, retail and even transmission projects of natural gas have been pending and Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline – TANAP – Project (The project aims to transport natural gas to be produced in Shah Deniz 2 field and other gas fields of Azerbaijan through Turkey to Europe. The pipeline is planned to built from Georgia – Turkey border to Turkey – Bulgaria border) takes more significant role both for Turkey’s 2023 goals in energy sector such as being an “energy hub” and for being an alternative to Russian Gas for Europe. By TANAP Turkey would be a 4th corridor and transmit Azerbaijan Natural Gas to Europe, therefore, Europe’s energy dependency would be reduced.

Where Israeli Leviathan Gas Stands

The gas fields’ output will end Israel’s energy shortage since Israel has been struggling with a lack of gas since the Arab Gas Pipeline got closed in 2011.  Even though discovery of these gas fields meets energy need of Israel, it seems that it would also provide fund to Israeli economy however the pipeline route should be planned well in order to transmit the gas to Europe. It is estimated that Leviathan gas field houses approximately 750 billion cubic meters natural gas besides oil reservoir under the natural gas seam in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. The announced offshore capacity is highly encouraging for Israel, which means that the State would reduce its energy dependency and even export gas to Europe eventually.

Due to the current situation of Middle East and geographical position of Israel the transmission of Israeli Gas is a critical issue with regards to security so that it is obvious that pipelines should be constructed through Mediterranean Sea if Turkey achieves to solve politic problems with Cyprus because in the event of transmission of Israeli gas, most probably the pipeline route would be planned through Cyprus.  Given that the fact that Turkey does not recognize Cyprus as a state, it can be easily predicted that challenging negotiations are close at hand for Turkey.

Turkey and Israel have fluctuating politic relations since several issues have been unsolved between both countries, however it is a fact that they are allies due to their NATO memberships and have several cooperation and bilateral trade agreements between. Indeed, Turkey is a critical player and holds a significant position among Europe, Middle East and Caucasia in regard to energy routes.

Considering the TANAP project as Europe’s alternative gas corridor to Russian gas and West countries’ increasing demand of energy, it would be an inevitable result that Israel – Mediterranean Sea- Turkey pipeline would be constructed and connected to TANAP in order to transmit natural gas within couple of years.


Herdem Law Firm, Istanbul Turkey

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