Politics has been a key stumbling block to fully monetizing gas discovered in the East Mediterranean deepwater. With the exception of Egypt’s 24 tcf Zohr, which has a hungry domestic market to sate, and Israel’s 10 tcf Tamar, which alone meets 55% of that country’s power demand, other finds – such as Cyprus’ 2011 4.2tcf Aphrodite – have struggled to get anywhere near development. The jury remains very much out on whether this year’s sanctioning of even a scaled-back Phase-1 of Israel’s 21 tcf Leviathan was a wise move, given the near-total absence of sales deals. Certainly realizing the field’s full potential requires tapping export markets.

The lack of monetization options in turn has stymied attempts to attract more exploration: Who wants to fund expensive deepwater drilling if even ‘success’ has no guarantee of payback? Israel has repeatedly pushed back – most recently to November – the closing date of its ongoing bid round due to a lack of interest; though that of Lebanon has had more interest in bidding which closes next week (MEES, 15 September). (CONTINUED - 1188 WORDS)