Natural gas resources in eastern Mediterranean region are unlikely to be a game changer given the rising supply in the global gas market, Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) told Anadolu Agency on Friday.
Discovery of new gas resources in eastern Mediterranean has put some countries under the spotlight; but feasibility, political challenges and existence of other major gas producers impose hurdles on the projects that may fail to have a major impact on the gas market.
"Qatar's liquefied natural gas has a very dominant role in the Mediterranean market," Birol said, adding that "With Qatar, American gas, and incoming supply from Israel and Egypt, it looks very difficult economically to constitute a major project in eastern Mediterranean, plus there are some political issues as well."
Currently, Qatar is leading the liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports with 12 consecutive years under its belt, while the U.S. is eyeing to raise its LNG exports with its abundant shale gas supplies.
"With those and political difficulties, it is not right to expect a major game changing role from eastern Mediterranean gas. We are in the midst of a gas abundance," he added.
Natural gas reserves in Israel’s Leviathan field is estimated to be 620 billion cubic meters (bcm), while offshore discoveries in Tamar are estimated to hold 280 bcm of gas.
Total gas reserves in Egypt's Zohr field is around 850 bcm, while Noor field was reported in June to hold 2.55 trillion cubic meters (tcm) of natural gas -- among the world's largest.
"Egypt first wanted to use this gas for its domestic consumption and has recently begun exporting gas. There will be some significant LNG exports from Egypt. They also discovered Noor field," Birol said.
"Israel has plans to export LNG in the future, or to integrate with Egyptian infrastructure. For now, however, it is using gas for its domestic consumption," he added.
The executive director noted that there are additional natural gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean as well, but added that there is an oversupply of gas in the global market.
"A new major wave of production is coming in the LNG sector," he said.
Global natural gas production steadily rose to 3.68 tcm in 2017, from 2.94 tcm in 2007, a 25.2 percent increase, while LNG imports increased to 393.4 bcm in 2017, from 356.7 bcm in 2016, posting a 10.3 percent annual jump, according to BP's Statistical Review of World Energy 2018 report.
Birol pointed out to the increasing LNG production in the U.S., Qatar and Australia, and said those three countries will become world leaders in LNG exports in 2025.
The executive director also praised Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) project that will deliver 6 bcm of gas from Shah Deniz II field in Azerbaijan to Turkey, and an additional 10 bcm to Europe every year.
Birol emphasized that Turkey should focus on gas storage, which currently constitutes 10 percent of its gas consumption.
The ratio of gas storage capacity to domestic gas consumption is around 25 percent in the world, according to Birol.
By Ovunc Kutlu and Nuran Erkul Kaya