The war with Hamas in Gaza, and the clashes in the north against Hezbollah, are inevitably affecting both the regional and global energy markets. Uncertainty is not good for economic markets, especially the energy sector. There have not yet been significant increases in oil prices, and natural gas prices have risen only marginally — but no major new deals are being made because the global energy market is waiting and watching, or showing “cautious nervousness.” This is mainly because there are still high quantities of gas available in the market. Europe has managed to overcome the lack of gas from Russia with supply from other sources (mainly liquified gas from the US and elsewhere), and European emergency stores are almost completely full.
Few have yet compared the current energy situation in the Middle East to the oil embargo surrounding the Yom Kippur War in 1973. A couple of weeks ago, the Iranian Minister of Energy called for a similar boycott at the gathering of the Islamic Conference in Saudi Arabia, but as expected, his call went unanswered.
With that said, the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean is complex. The Israeli Ministry of Energy’s October 9 instruction to Chevron to temporarily halt gas production in the Tamar field did not materially affect the local energy market. Chevron announced that it was able to compensate for the lack of gas from Tamar with other fields, both for the Israeli market and for the export markets in Egypt and Jordan. However, the situation could become more difficult as the fighting continues, especially if it escalates to include additional arenas.
It is important to keep an eye on this, especially with regard to the possible consequences for Egypt. Egypt is facing a shortage of natural gas for the local market that has led to power outages from time to time. Moreover, its dire economic situation necessitates the flow of gas from Israel — both for the domestic market and no less importantly for export in order to bring foreign currency into the depleted Egyptian treasury. Present estimations indicate a sharp decrease of gas export to Egypt of around 70%(!). This could have serious internal and regional political consequences. The angry reaction of President Sisi to what was interpreted as an Israeli attempt to evacuate Palestinians from the Gaza Strip into Sinai reflected his concern about both Egypt’s poor economic position and the strategic implications of the Gaza problem being pushed into Egypt’s front yard. A few days ago, fuel prices in Egypt increased by about 15%, but the government said it will not raise the price of basic products. Egypt’s worsening economic situation should be of considerable concern to the region and beyond.
An equally interesting arena is Lebanon. The drilling by the Total company in Block 9 did not yield positive results. Although no official announcement was made by the Lebanese Ministry of Energy, reports indicate that no gas was found. This is a fairly common result in the energy sector, as gas often fails to be found with the first drilling. But in view of Lebanon’s current economic and political circumstances, this is not good news. Reports indicate that the Lebanese government is trying to convince the relevant companies to drill in Block 8 to preserve “energy momentum”. In the present circumstances, with clashes between Hezbollah and Israel taking place, the energy angle is naturally being sidelined, but it will be very important later.
In the Cypriot arena, Chevron submitted an up-to-date action plan to the government regarding the Aphrodite gas field, including its intention to export the gas to Egypt. The government responded with reservations. The dispute has not yet been settled, though it probably will be in the next couple of months. The Israeli angle concerning this field is not clear (there is a dispute regarding the Israeli portion of this field), but when Chevron decides to proceed with Aphrodite, a means will likely be found to settle this angle as well.
In addition, the Italian company ENI is expected to drill in another field with positive potential in Cypriot waters at the beginning of next year.
There is uncertainty regarding the Turkish position on Cypriot energy potential. It should be expected that if Chevron takes practical steps in the Aphrodite field, Ankara will respond. Although the atmosphere between Turkey and Greece is improving, this is mainly on the bilateral level between those two countries. Cyprus is another matter. Intriguingly, however, the Turkish Foreign Minister made a statement in which he suggested finding a way to share the gas between Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots even in the absence of a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem. Is this a serious idea? Will it be possible to motivate all the parties to take such a creative and pragmatic step? Time will tell, but clearly the Israeli-Lebanese maritime agreement has spurred some creativity about other conflicts in the region.
For the time being, the war in Gaza has not created too many waves in either the regional energy sector or the global one. However, the uncertainty will increase as the crisis continues, especially against the background of the ground operation in the Gaza Strip. Escalation in the Lebanese arena would further exacerbate the situation. It is important to stress that although there is no apparent shortage of natural gas in the world market, and although it is to be expected that Saudi Arabia and its Gulf partners will adopt a responsible policy in this regard concerning oil, ongoing instability could have a negative effect on the energy sector. Obviously, Washington is aware of this and is paying close attention. Israel needs to do the same because of the strategic implications for the region.
Interestingly enough, the Cypriot Energy Minister stated on November 8 that the war might provide an impetus to plans for a pipeline conveying offshore natural gas to Cyprus for processing and shipping to foreign markets. He added that energy cooperation between Israel and Turkey might have fallen by the wayside given Turkey’s increasingly harsh criticism of Israeli actions in Gaza. While it is too early to assess the implications of the war for Israel’s plans for another export option for its natural gas, lessons should be taken the day after.
Ambassador (ret.) Michael Harari joined the Israeli Foreign Ministry and served more than 30 years in a range of diplomatic roles in Israel and abroad, including (among others) in Cairo, London and Nicosia. His final position abroad was as Israeli Ambassador to Cyprus (2010-2015). Today he serves as a consultant in the fields of strategy, policy and energy and lectures in the Political Science Department at the Jezreel Valley College. A version of this article was originally published by The BESA Center.
The post The War in Gaza and the Implications for Energy in the Eastern Mediterranean first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
Protester Sets Self on Fire Outside Israeli Consulate in Atlanta
i24 News – A protester was in critical condition on Friday after setting themself on fire outside the Israeli consulate in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. authorities said. A security guard who tried to intervene was also wounded.
A Palestinian flag found at the scene was part of the protest, Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said at a news conference. He added that investigators did not believe there was any connection to terrorism and none of the consular staff was ever in danger.
JUST IN: A pro-Palestine protester is in critical condition after they set themselves on fire in “political protest” outside of the Israeli Consulate office in Atlanta.
The protester was reportedly draped in a Palestine flag.
The protester has severe burns and unfortunately, a… pic.twitter.com/B8nUQAj2nU
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) December 1, 2023
“We do not see any threat here,” he said. “We believe it was an act of extreme political protest that occurred.” Everyone inside the consulate building was said to be safe.
Anat Sultan-Dadon, Consul General of Israel to the southeastern U.S., said: “We are saddened to learn of the self-immolation at the entrance to the office building. It is tragic to see the hate and incitement toward Israel expressed in such a horrific way.”
“The sanctity of life is our highest value. Our prayers are with the security officer who was injured while trying to prevent this tragic act. We are grateful to the city of Atlanta’s law enforcement and first responders for all they do to ensure safety.”
The post Protester Sets Self on Fire Outside Israeli Consulate in Atlanta first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
Released Israeli Hostages Call for Captives to Be Freed
Israeli hostages released in the past week by Hamas in Gaza called on Saturday for the immediate release of fellow captives left behind, a day after a temporary truce that had allowed scores to come home broke down.
Tens of thousands gathered at a rally in Tel Aviv outside Israel‘s defense headquarters, where they cheered Yelena Trupanov, 50, standing on a stage just two days after being freed.
“I came to thank you because without you I wouldn’t be here. Now we must bring back my (son) Sasha, and everyone. Now.”
Similar pleas from other released hostages were shown on video.
A seven-day truce, during which Hamas had released more than 100 hostages, collapsed on Friday after Hamas breached the ceasefire.
Israel said on Saturday it had recalled a Mossad intelligence agency team from Qatar, host of indirect negotiations with Hamas, accusing the Palestinian faction of reneging on a deal that would have freed all children and women held hostage.
More than 240 people – Israelis and foreign nationals – were abducted to Gaza on Oct 7. by Hamas terrorists who burst through the border with Israel and killed 1,200 people.
The post Released Israeli Hostages Call for Captives to Be Freed first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
IDF Foils Stabbing Attack Near Nablus in West Bank, Eliminates Terrorist
i24 News – The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reported thwarting a stabbing attack on Saturday afternoon against reserve Battalion 7037 at the X junction near Nablus in the West Bank.
According to the IDF spokesperson, the event unfolded when the forces at the roadblock became suspicious of an individual approaching the barricade.
During the questioning process, the suspect suddenly drew a knife and advanced towards the IDF personnel.
ניסיון פיגוע דקירה אירע לפני זמן קצר לעבר כוח צה”ל במילואים מגדוד 7037 שפעל בחסם בצומת האיקס סמוך לעיר שכם שבמרחב חטיבת שומרון.
הכוח חשד במחבל שהגיע לחסם והחל לתחקר אותו, המחבל שלף סכין והחל להתקדם לעבר הכוח.
הלוחמים חתרו למגע והגיבו בירי לעבר המחבל שחוסל. אין נפגעים לכוחותינו. pic.twitter.com/mEaJs58hpE
— דובר צה״ל דניאל הגרי – Daniel Hagari (@IDFSpokesperson) December 2, 2023
The soldiers, faced with the threat, engaged in contact procedures and ultimately responded by opening fire on the assailant. The spokesperson confirmed that the attacker was neutralized due to the IDF’s action.
It was also noted that there were no casualties among the IDF forces involved in the incident. According to the spokesperson, the situation at the X junction has stabilized, and IDF continues to maintain vigilance in the area to prevent further attacks.
The post IDF Foils Stabbing Attack Near Nablus in West Bank, Eliminates Terrorist first appeared on Algemeiner.com.