Israel-Turkey link lifts offshore-gas hope

Rapprochement between Israel and Turkey lowers one of many hurdles to development of giant Leviathan natural gas field and other deepwater discoveries in the eastern Mediterranean (OGJ Online, Apr. 12, 2016).

The countries signed an agreement on June 28 that reestablishes ties severed in 2010 after the Israeli military killed 10 Turkish activists aboard the Mavi Marmara, part of a flotilla trying to breach Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza.

The new agreement allows Turkey to invest in Gaza and to deliver aid to Palestinians there. Israel will create a “humanitarian fund” of $20 million for families of the Mavi Marmara victims. The Turkish aid shipments will pass through the Israeli port of Ashdod.

Turkey is a logical destination for pipeline deliveries of natural gas from East Mediterranean fields, further development of which depends on outlets for production exceeding Israeli needs.

But routing and financing of a pipeline would be difficult because of tensions among countries in the region. Turkey’s strained relations with Cyprus also complicate prospects.

Within Israel, too, gas development remains controversial. Opposition political parties objected to the agreement with Turkey, some claiming it had been motivated by gas interests.

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