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John Daly

John Daly

Dr. John C.K. Daly is the chief analyst for Oilprice.com, Dr. Daly received his Ph.D. in 1986 from the School of Slavonic and East European…

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Turkey, Egypt to Drill for Natural Gas in the Mediterranean, Threatening Israel’s Energy Dreams

What a difference fifteen months makes.

In May 2010 Israel’s cold peace with Egypt was viable, the country was celebrating massive Mediterranean natural gas finds and Tel Aviv enjoyed a military alliance with Turkey, an overwhelmingly Muslim nation.

Two events have changed that picture beyond all recognition – Israel’s 31 May 2010 attack on the peaceful Gaza-bound “Freedom flotilla,” during which Israeli Shayetet 13 Naval Special Forces commandos killed eight Turkish citizens and an American, Furkan Dogan. Outraged by the assault, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded an apology and compensation for the unprovoked attack.

He’s still waiting.

The second regional game changer has been the startling events of the “Arab Spring,” which following unprecedented massive public demonstrations, on 11 February led to the resignation of Egypt’s President, Hosni Mubarak, who had been in power for 29 years.

One of Israel's greatest benefits from the 1973 Camp David Accords was its ability to import Egyptian natural gas through Egypt's $500 million East Mediterranean Gas Company Ltd. (EMG) pipeline.  EMG was established in 2000 and jointly owned by Egyptian General Petroleum Corp. owning 68.4 percent, the private Israeli company Merhav a 25 percent share and the Ampal-American Israel Corp. the remaining 6.6 percent.

Following Mubarak’s downfall a series of attacks were made on the EMG pipeline, which supplied about 40 percent of Israel's natural gas imports, until an assault on 12 July led to its shutdown.

Switching gears, the Netanyahu government downplayed the importance of the pipeline shutdown, obviously looking forward to the swift development of its Mediterranean natural gas assets, the Tamar field, discovered in 2009 and Leviathan, discovered the following year. In June an Israeli company announced the discovery of two new natural gas fields, Sarah and Mira, about 45 miles off the city of Hadera.

Initial prospecting estimates of the Tamar and Leviathan fields, off Haifa, concluded that the two sites between them could hold as much as 688 billion cubic meters of extractable natural gas. In 2010 the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that the Levant Basin Province, covering parts of Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and Cyprus, could contain as much as 3.4 trillion cubic meters of gas and up to 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil.

The energy assets have focused the Israeli government’s attention - on 9 August The Jerusalem Post reported that the Israeli military had deployed drones to patrol its gas fields off its northern coast in water contested with Lebanon.

The sites have already raised tensions with Lebanon, which contests Israel’s self-proclaimed maritime borders giving them possession. On 4 August Lebanese President Michel Sleiman said, “We will not allow anyone to lay his hand on our wealth, which our children and grandchildren deserve. We will not only pass debts to them but also a wealth that will guarantee them a better future so that they remain in Lebanon.” It should be noted that the two countries remain technically at war and will not negotiate directly with one another.

Now the wheel has taken another turn, as Turkish Energy Minister Taner Y?ld?z said earlier this week during an official visit to Egypt that Turkey intends to cooperate with Egypt in searching for natural gas in the Mediterranean.

It is one thing for Israel to take on Hezbollah, based in southern Lebanon and Lebanon’s modest military forces – it would be quite another thing to mix it up with Turkey’s military, the second largest in NATO, or Egypt’s forces.

A change that should give Israeli military planners pause are reports this week in the Turkish media that Turkey's Military Electronics Industry (ASELSAN) has produced a new identification friend or foe (IFF) system for Turkish jet fighters, warships and submarines and the new software, contrary to the older, U.S.-made version, does not automatically identify Israeli planes and ships automatically as “friendly.” The new IFF has already been installed in Turkish F-16s and is expected to be installed shortly in all Turkish Navy ships and submarines. It’s notable that that Turkey never participated in a single one of the Arab campaigns against Israel from 1948 to 1973.

Quite aside from the ominous regional implications, there is the possibility that the U.S. could become involved in the looming dispute, as Texas-based Noble Energy has partnered with Israel’s Delek Group Ltd. to develop Israel’s Leviathan, Tamar, Dalit, and Noa offshore natural gas fields, and also has a concession to Cyprus's Bloc 12 offshore Mediterranean field, located near Leviathan.


All eyes are now turning towards next week’s UN General Assembly meeting, where the Palestinian Authority is to press forward with a motion for recognition as an independent nation, though the final form of the petition is yet unclear. Up to 15 months ago, Tel Aviv could reliably assume that U.S. influence could prevail upon both Egypt and Turkey to shy away from supporting such a move – no longer.

Some diplomatic flexibility is called for – surely 3.4 trillion cubic meters of gas and up to 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil could satisfy the energy and fiscal needs of all interested parties.

The alternative is too dispiriting to contemplate. While predicting events in the Middle East is a clouded prospect at best, one thing is clear, from Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s scorched earth policy in withdrawing from Kuwait during in 1991 – oil and natural gas fields are flammable and Israel does not have enough drones to protect its offshore fields.

By. John C.K. Daly of OilPrice.com

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  • Anonymous on September 18 2011 said:
    Something must be wrong here. I mean, this talk about "mixing it up"Out in the middle of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, or even the Meditteranean Sea, Israel has no authority whatsoever to interfere with the 'energy dreams' of Turkey and Egypt.Issues of this nature have been taken up at some length in the 'learned literature' but I ignored it in my new book. Why? Because it's trivial. If I thought that there was oil in the lagoon in Lincoln Park in Chicago, I would hire a rowboat and start drilling tomorrow. Maybe I could pump up a few dozen barrels before Exxon came along and put me out of business.
  • Anonymous on September 18 2011 said:
    Excuse me. I read the same article and no where does it say Israel is interfering with the energy dreams of Egypt or Turkey. Where do you get theses negative ideas ?
  • Anonymous on September 18 2011 said:
    What a stupid comment by #1. The gas found by Israel is strictly in Israel's legally recongnized maritime economic zone. Turkey has no border with Israel, by land or by sea. For Turkey to interfear or threaten Israel's activities in it's own legally racognized maritime economic zone would be an act of war. As for the question of who has more firepower. Israel has enough nuclear weapons to destroy every single major city in Turkey ten times over again if it ever came to that. It could simply eliminate Turkey as a country if it was forced to do so. In addition, neither Israel or the United States will tolorate Turkish attempts to play any major role in the Eastern Med. So lets please stop playing word-games and act like adults.
  • Anonymous on September 18 2011 said:
    The reverse is also true turkey nor egypt have no right to interfere with Israel's energy dreams either. BTW the comments about the military have got to be a joke. Israel has the best army in the middle east and would kick turkey, egypt and the rest of its foes outside of Russia, China or the US up one side and down the other.
  • Anonymous on September 19 2011 said:
    Israel is a country of 5.7 million Jews of whom about 40-60% do national service. The IDF hasn't fought a succesful war since 1973. It is not the IDF of 67 and 73 thetefore no more experienced than the Egyptian or Turkish militaries. Additionally its moral is low since the Lebanon fiascos (2000, 2006). 'Lack of motivation syndrome' is how the IDf defines it. Egypt has 70million people and equipmwent as modern as the IDF thanks to the US. Turkey also 70 million also with relatively modern military. All Hezbollah has vto do is land a nuke or non nuke on the NWC pumping station in the Kinneret and Israel has NO MORE WATER.Syria and Hezbollah between them have enough missiles to render Israel a dead duck. Turkey has a modernish navy. Israel wouldn't wabnt bto face Turkish and Egyptian ships plus Hezbollah and Hamas rockets. Too many fronts... That gentlemen is the reality today...
  • Anonymous on September 19 2011 said:
    This article and the above comments, EXCEPT MINE OF COURSE, are almost too much to take on an empty stomach. I'm not prepared to go into details, although in a seminar room or conference, somebody (or somebodies) would hear some things that they do not want to hear.What happened to all the smart people and their comments? Why do we have to read some of the things above. The people who deserve support are not Israel, Egypt, Monaco etc etc, but the Palestinians. If Philip's military analysis was correct - which it isn't - then it might be possible to argue that the other countries in the above discussion can take care of themselves.The reality - as Philip puts it - is that Palestine deserves to be recognized as a sovereign state, immediately if not sooner, and the siege of Gaza lifted.
  • Anonymous on September 19 2011 said:
    Ah yes. Palestine should be recognised as a state. That way, the next time they jump stupid, Isreal can legally pound their butts in dust; thereby eliminating a longtime nuisance to the existence of Isreal.
  • Anonymous on September 20 2011 said:
    Anona, Palestine has no army. They have no air force. They have no tanks. What they have is the same right as Israel or Guadacanal to be recognized as a state. I like your expression "jump stupid" though. I remember that from Chicago, or the US army, or somewhere. In any event, the ignoramuses that I have had to deal with in the academic world jump stupid almost every time they open their mouths, and they are definitely a longtime nuisance to the educational system in this or any other country, as well as yours truly.
  • Anonymous on September 20 2011 said:
    Fred, why is my military analysis incorrect?
  • Anonymous on September 20 2011 said:
    "If Philip's military analysis was correct - which it isn't - then it might be possible to argue that the other countries in the above discussion can take care of themselves." Fred, please could you let me know why my military analysis is incorrect? Thank you. ;-) :-*
  • Anonymous on September 20 2011 said:
    Oh yes; Fred, I forgot to add; "Anona, Palestine has no army. They have no air force. They have no tanks. What they have is the same right as Israel or Guadacanal to be recognized as a state."I completely agree with you on that. :-)
  • Anonymous on September 20 2011 said:
    Phillip, please believe me when I say that it is wrong. All of it is wrong, and the statement about the missles of _____ just doesn't make any sense at all.
  • Anonymous on September 21 2011 said:
    Fred, give me details of where my analysis is incorrect to either confirm or refute not just 'all of it is wrong';that doesn't help at all. And what about my statement about missiles? What is incorrect in that staement? Please give me detail not generalities. Thanks.
  • Anonymous on September 22 2011 said:
    Fred, please as a general thing, if you can't produce different information please don't tell someone that theeir analysis is wrong. I don't 'believe' you or anyone else without information. I respect your credentials as an energy economist. However as an amateur like me in the field of military analysis of ME states do you know any more than I do?
  • Anonymous on September 22 2011 said:
    Philip, I am NOT am amateur in the field of military analysis. I could lecture on that topic at any university in the world, and anybody who I thought was thinking - just thinking - that I was wrong would be made a fool of.One of the first lectures I gave was on the use of Northern artillery at Gettysburg. I must have been in my early twenties at the time, and my educational background at the time was a second rate secondary school, since I had been expelled from engineering school for poor scholarship. Later, I probably gave hundreds of lectures on mortars, machine guns and recoilless weapons.But let me make one thing clear. A missile fired at Israel that could cause that country real damage would likely be answered with nuclear explosive. Nobody in their right mind wants anything like that, so it is best to get your facts straight in case Israel or those other people ask to do their thinking.
  • Anonymous on September 22 2011 said:
    Right Fred, I finally get an answer. Your field is military intelligence in the field of artillery, missiles and ballistics. right? Does your field include ME political culture, history and psychology and Zionism? I fancy even as an amateur I may have more experience in that field than you, esp. the culturew and psychology bit. Your remark about 'anyonre in their right mind' shows a bias towards American thinkiung not an understanding of ME thinking. Anyhow military intelligence is a much narrower field than geopolitics. As I constantly remind the good people at an American geopolitics website I'm a member of, the American view of ME and Eurasian geopolitics always fails to take culture, history and psychology into account, because Americans in general (except the Robert Baers) do not understand the geopolitical, religious and psychological drivers behind Eurasian and ME geopolitics.
  • Anonymous on September 22 2011 said:
    Also Fred do you understand the chess of geopolitics? The chess behind the psychology. As in for example do you understand why I hate the thought, viscerally loathe the very idea of nuclear power? That is understanding psychology. Its not simply a question of ballistics and Western logical process. its a question of visceral emotional drivers and religion and geopolitics combined with military analysis. The Russians and Iranians understand that, the West doesn't (except the Robert Baers).
  • Anonymous on September 22 2011 said:
    "Philip, I am NOT am amateur in the field of military analysis. I could lecture ... and anybody who I thought was thinking - just thinking - that I was wrong would be made a fool of."Why would you want to make a fool of anyone, as an educator? Simply let your info show itelf better than theirs. Is this your ego talking? "But let me make one thing clear. A missile fired at Israel that could cause that country real damage would likely be answered with nuclear explosive. Nobody in their right mind wants anything like that, so it is best to get your facts straight" How about hundreds or thousands of missiles that are reportedly in the hands of Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas? The same people that can carry out suicide bombings? More missiles than any anti-missile defence could managre. Moslems aren't afraid to die, Israelis are... 'Right minds'...? Those are the facts as I know them. What is your information that makes mine incorrect?
  • Anonymous on September 23 2011 said:
    Wrong Philip, wrong. A couple of centuries ago I made a calculation for the firing of a simulated tactical nuclear artillery shell at a (simulated)Soviet Army that had broken through the Fulda Gap and was advancing on Nuremberg (Germany). Exciting, huh, which it was because they trusted me to make the calculation.Of course it could have been a provocation, since they might have thought that I was a communist, and would pass the bad news to Moscow. What happened was that after that exercise I went to Paris for some good times, which so upset my superiors (who observed my actions in that wonderful city) that they gave me a one year vacation. That was my last beautiful year in the US Army.Well, anyway, we arn't talking about culture but realities. Anybody who doesn't understand the realities of Israel's nuclar arsenal needs to go back to kindergarten - or to Paris for some good times.
  • Anonymous on September 23 2011 said:
    OK Fred, I appreciate the humour, your story telling is as enjoyable as ever... ;-) :-* !However, as you haven't countered my info with anything more substantial than a stab at 'culture'(which is about religion and fanaticism, not visitsd to the Louvre, Gugenheim or Sidney Opera)I shall end this conversation. You obviously enjoy criticising for the enjoyment of it. Well I hope you enjoyed it. :lol: My analysis stands unless someone comes to challenge it with FACTS, EXPERIENCE (of the ME) and UNDERSTANDING of the actors involved.Plainly you have none of these, except in the field of energy economics, for which I respect you a great deal. End of present conversation. :-) Sincerely Philip
  • Anonymous on September 23 2011 said:
    Fred, on another subject entirely, did you ever read the book 'Cardboard Castle;an inside history of the Warsaw Pact'? It makes interesting reading for anyone like yourself who was on the front line, or like myself who studied Russian language and Russian/Soviet studies at College. Take care Fred :-)

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