Athens.- By Ralli Papageorgiou/ (CNA) — The US recognizes Cyprus’ right to drill in its offshore zone, Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy, Ambassador Richard Morningstar has stressed in his speech as guest of honor at a luncheon hosted during the Economist Investment Energy Summit in Athens.
American companies bring unparalleled world-class experience in offshore exploration and we support their bids to work in the region, as we do in other regions, he said.
”As we have also said many times, we believe that any potential revenue from future oil and gas resources in Cyprus should be equitably shared between both communities. And our key message both to the Republic of Cyprus and Turkey reflects on longstanding policy, which is to support the Cypriot-led efforts under UN auspices to reunify the island into a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, and encouraging the two sides to come to a peaceful settlement. And that this issue, the issue of resources, if done right, could help us get there. And this would allow all of Cyprus and other countries to share the benefits of the eastern Mediterranean,” he added.
The American Ambassador said that Israel’s significant offshore natural gas finds, including the ”Tamar” and ”Leviathan” fields, are one of the largest offshore gas finds of the past decade. This put Israel onto the hydrocarbon map and initiated significant changes in Israel’s energy economy and investment and energy policies, he stressed.
And this gas will significantly enhance Israel’s energy security and Israel, even as we speak, is presently examining its export potential, including through LNG, he added, pointing out that Greece is also working to identify potential hydrocarbons for exploitation. The Greek government has announced tenders for seismic studies and hydrocarbon exploration onshore in the Ionian Sea and south of the island of Crete, he noted.
”Having said this, you know the issues in the eastern Mediterranean they go beyond Cyprus, they go beyond Israel, they go beyond Greece; they affect the whole region”. There are a myriad of legal and political issues that need to be resolved, he warned, stressing that ”gas in the eastern Mediterranean is a good thing”. A good thing that helps to create diversification and it helps Europe, but most of all, it helps the countries within the region, which can benefit from the resources that are in the eastern Mediterranean, he said.
”There are multiple pots of gold out there in the eastern Mediterranean. And if equitable solutions are found, all, everybody, all of the countries and their citizens will gain; and if not, nobody is going to reap the whole benefits and a lot of that gold might just sit out there for a long time”.
Offering a piece of advice, Morningstar said that ”voices should be kept low. The parties that are involved need to look carefully at what their interests are and make contact with other parties within the region, to try and find solutions that make sense, so that everybody can benefit from these pots of gold that are out there in the Mediterranean”.
This is too much of an opportunity to ultimately let political issues and legal issues mess up the benefit that all of this can have to the citizens of every country in this region, he pointed out.
Morningstar said that USA aim to encourage the development of a balanced and diverse energy strategy with multiple energy sources and multiple routes to market and this is not only for Europe, but for all countries and for Russia. ”All countries need to have balanced and diversified policies. And for example if Europe wants to diversify its energy supply there is no reason why Russia shouldn’t be diversifying its consumers as well”.
USA’ policy is to help Caspian, Central Asian and Middle Eastern and Eastern Mediterranean countries to find new routes to markets for their hydrocarbons, he said. The most important part, he said, is that these countries should be able to make their own choices as to how to deal with their energy resources.
”We are not in a zero-sum game with Russia, as some would argue. Not at all. Again, we only care that countries make their own choices with respect to energy resources”. The Obama Administration strongly supports the establishment of the southern corridor to bring natural gas to Europe via Turkey from the Caspian, and potentially other sources beyond Europe’s south eastern frontiers, Morningstar concluded.