Cyprus to assume first Presidency term of Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF)

Cyprus will assume its first official Presidency term of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) starting on January 2022, participants at the fourth EMGF ministerial meeting decided on Tuesday.

The meeting, convened in Cairo, was attended by Cyprus’ Energy Minister Natasa Pilides and her Egyptian, Greek, Israeli, Italian, Jordanian and Palestinian counterparts, comprising the EMGF Founding Members.

In a declaration issued after the meeting, the Founding Members also announced the entry into force of the EMGF Statute that took place on 1st of March 2021. Moreover, they adopted two new initiatives on Gas Decarbonization and LNG as a fuel for vessels.

Ministers who attended either physically or via videoconference also agreed to welcome France to join as an EMGF member Country. The Forum also agreed and welcomed the United States of America to join as EMGF observer.

Tarek El Molla, Egypt’s Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, welcomed Pilides, on the occasion of the official launch of EMGF as a full-fledged intergovernmental organization, based in Cairo.

On her part, Pilides congratulated Egypt on behalf of the Republic of Cyprus, for its work leading to today’s result and thanked all Founding Members. She spoke of the importance of the meeting, which, she said, is “an important cornerstone for our region” and also referred to the benefits it generates for the region.

The international attention the Forum attracts is an additional confirmation for its success, Pilides added. She also noted that any country from the Eastern Mediterranean, wishing to become a member, may apply, as long as they share the same values and wish to cooperate on the basis of international law, for the security of the entire region and the welfare of the people.

Participating Ministers also referred to the need for absolute respect of EMGF members’ rights, in the framework of international law.

According to the EMGF declaration, Ministers acknowledged the significant milestone for the serious steps and successive achievements realized since the Forum’s launch in January 2019, by the intensive cooperation among Founding Members, and the tremendous efforts exerted by their professional teams.

The Founding Members also reaffirmed EMGF objectives as a platform for a structured policy dialogue on natural gas. They also noted that the EMGF would lead to the development of a sustainable regional gas market, unlocking the full gas resources potential in the Eastern Mediterranean region in full respect of the rights of its Members over their natural resources in accordance with international law.

The meeting discussed the way forward with the forum’s organizational matters, including continuing Egypt’s presidency of the EMGF utill end of 2021, through Tarek El Molla as the EMGF President. Osama Mobarez, Undersecretary for technical office Egypt, was appointed Acting Secretary General of EMGF.

Members also discussed the EMGF activities including developing a Long Term Strategy (LTS) for the EMGF and the two new initiatives on “Gas Decarbonization” and “LNG as a fuel for vessels” in line with the environmental global trends. The EMGF Members will form dedicated working groups of Experts for developing the strategy and for each of the initiatives. Subsequently, the Ministers took note of the progress achieved on preparing a study on “Gas Supply and Demand in the East Mediterranean”, in line with the gas market assessment and look ahead. The study, supported by the EU, is one of the activities taking place by the EMGF Gas Industry Advisory Committee (GIAC).

The Ministers adopted the EMGF Program of Work for 2021. It compiles the main milestones targeted on both the organizational setup finalization, together with the Gas cooperation activities, including studies, initiatives and workshops.

The founding members agreed to convene the next Ministerial Meeting  in Cairo during the last quarter of 2021.