Turkey poised to turn EastMed pipeline into pipe dream - analyst

It appears almost inevitable that Mediterranean natural gas will eventually become a major source of political disputes, if not a war, as Turkey has rolled up its sleeves in retaliation to the EastMed pipeline, journalist Ramzy Baroud wrote.

Israel, Greece and Cyprus have signed an agreement for a pipeline project to ship natural gas from the Eastern Mediterranean region to Europe. 

The estimated at €6 billion EastMed pipeline project, which is expected to cover 10 percent of Europe’s overall need for natural gas, arrives amid soaring regional tensions with Ankara, which is seeking to expand its claims over gas-rich areas of the Mediterranean Sea.

In a response to the pipeline, Ankara signed a maritime agreement with Libya, which establishes a new Turkey-Libya economic zone that the EastMed pipeline would have to cross. The move aims to give Turkey more leverage over the project.

“Turkey believes that the deal, which involves its own regional rivals, Cyprus and Greece, is designed specifically to marginalize it economically by excluding it from the Mediterranean’s hydrocarbon boom,’’ Baroud wrote in an article he penned for Counter Punch website on Friday.

Despite condemnation over the Libya deal Ankara has “succeeded in changing the rules of the game by staking a claim to vast areas that are also claimed by Greece and Cyprus as part of their so-called exclusive economic zones (EEZ),’’ he said. 

In addition to drilling in Libya’s territorial waters and disputed waters near Cyprus for natural gas, Baroud wrote, “Ankara is also accusing Cyprus of violating ‘the equal claim to discoveries,’ an arrangement that followed the military conflict between both countries in 1974.”

Turkey’s bold moves could potentially turn the EastMed pipeline into a pipedream, the article said.