East Med Gas Forum will become international body

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The fledgeling East Med Gas Forum (EMGF) will evolve into a recognised international body after Cyprus along with the rest of its members sign the founding charter on 22 September.

Following the ratification of the charter by the Cyprus government on Tuesday, Energy Minister Natasa Pilides will be digitally signing the charter at an online ceremony held with the other founding members: Egypt, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.

Pilides said the forum’s objective is to leverage “the excellent relations and cooperation of the eastern Mediterranean countries, to find ways of making the best use of the region’s natural wealth, primarily natural gas.”

The signing of the founding charter comes after a series of meetings between the founding members and negotiation with third parties expressing interest to join or participate as observers.

In addition to the founding nations, the EMGF also features energy companies who take part in various committees discussing technical issues.

Earlier in the year, France had also requested to join the forum while the United States had asked to become a permanent observer.

Pilides said that the forum will also deal with issues relating to infrastructure.

“For the time being the focus is on natural gas, but down the line, the participating countries would like to discuss other matters such as subsea power cables.”

Regarding the development of the Aphrodite gas field, Pilides said the government is in contact with both Noble Energy and Chevron who are carrying out talks over a planned takeover.

US energy giant Chevron is taking over Noble for $5 bln in an all-share deal which is expected to be completed in October.

The deal should go through following a meeting of Noble Energy shareholders, scheduled for October 2, where they will be asked to approve of the planned takeover.

Pilides noted that Noble Energy is still the operator of the Aphrodite gas concession.

She said the government remains in touch with all foreign companies active in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone, regarding their drilling schedules which had to be delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The East Med Gas Forum was established in January 2019, with seven energy ministers of the founding members deciding to form a committee to elevate the forum to the level of an international organisation.

The forum, among other things, aims to lower infrastructure costs and secure competitive prices for gas from the region.

EMGF hopes to ensure cheaper natural gas transport which will, in turn, mean that it will be better for consumers.