Drilling for natural gas by Israel in the eastern Mediterranean has already resulted in undersea territorial disputes between Israel and Lebanon, resulting in the United Nations deciding to mediate the dispute between the two countries. Besides the environmental concerns of this undersea drilling, there are also concerns about a proposed plan by Israel to construct an undersea gas pipeline to supply natural gas to European countries. After a jet fuel spill last week, environmentalists call into question Israel’s qualifications in building such infrastructure and protecting it from leaks and spills.
The environmental concerns of too much undersea drilling have now been expressed by Greek Cyprus Commerce Minister Antonis Paschalides , concerning his country’s exploration for natural gas in what is known as the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) south-east of Cyprus, known as Block 12. In an interview in the Cyprus Mail, Paschalides expressed concerns that drilling for natural gas could result in environmental damage.
Map of Israel and Cyprus gas fields
The environmental concerns came in the wake or recent drilling problems by Noble Energy, a Houston Texas based company that has already invested in a number of natural gas wells in the Tamar natural gas fields off Israel’s coastline. These fears arose in the wake of the abandonment of a well drilling by Noble in the area, at a cost of $42 million USD.
The Cyprus government is currently discussing with Noble Energy concerning exploration in the Exclusive Economic Zone, where Noble Energy was given a drilling concession. But as expressed by Commerce Minister Mr. Paschalides: “Our agreement with the company is all about the protection of the environment. We’ve set very strict conditions. Measures will be taken to protect the environment.”
The minister also said that his country was one of the first to conduct a strategic and environmental study before commencing with the gas exploration. In addition the drilling itself, a successful natural gas discovery would result in the need to construct a pipeline to bring the gas ashore “it its raw, gaseous form.”
Concern about the environmental implications of sabotage and other damage to a gas pipeline has become more intense after the sabotage inflicted on the surface gas pipeline between Egypt, Israel and Jordan, which occurred a second time in the wake of the “Arab Spring” popular uprisings in Egypt.
Being well aware of any environmental effects on the tourism industry, one of the Island’s main income providers, Paschalides said:“Either way (regarding the environmental study findings), we should have the necessary supervision to protect the seas. We are a tourism island, and need to be extremely careful.”
More articles on natural gas exploration issues in the Eastern Mediterranean:
Revolution in Egypt May Cut Off Natural Gas Supplies to Israel
Will Israel’s Undersea Pipeline Idea Increase Mediterranean’s Already Polluted State?
UN to Mediate Natural Gas Stand Off Between Israel and Lebanon Gas Fields Dispute
Tamar Natural Gas Needs Fuel to Power Better Place Cars