Invited to speak at a Policy Seminar co-organized by Eurogas and the European Parliament on 8 March in Brussels, MEDREG shared its vision and latest work on the development of an integrated and competitive gas market in the region.
Held under the auspices of the Maltese EU Presidency, the event aimed at addressing “the role of gas in the Mediterranean as a catalyst for better neighbourhood relations, socioeconomic progress and sustainable development”. The seminar’s objective was to discuss both gas supply and route diversification, and to highlight other positive developments that gas can bring to the region, for EU Member States as well as non-EU countries.
MEDREG, represented by Mr. Mehmet Erturk, Vice-President of the Turkish energy regulator (EMRA), stressed that the implementation of a stable regulatory framework is a prerequisite to attract investors and ensure energy security of supply. He mentioned MEDREG report mapping out current and projected gas and electricity infrastructures in the Mediterranean basin, identifying the main barriers for investments and drawing a set of recommendations to overcome them. A survey submitted to Mediterranean regulators has revealed that the lack of clear institutional framework and regulatory obstacles constitute some of the biggest barriers to investments, indicated Mr. Erturk.
“Regulatory framework is the most important issue for the investors. The two surveys conducted by ENTSOG and MEDREG showed that stable, predictable and harmonized regulations in the Mediterranean region is a key factor for the transformation of the Mediterranean gas market, and the objective of MEDREG is to foster the setting-up of such a regulatory framework in the region” declared Mr. Erturk.
The need for a clear and stable regulatory framework was further emphasized by the panel, stating that regulation is the most important element to develop a gas market in the Euro-Mediterranean region. “We must work on effective regulation in order to make gas affordable and reachable, and lift the obstacles of its development”, concluded one speaker. Raising awareness of the gas’s particular characteristics and qualities was also mentioned as an important factor to integrate this energy source further in the EU energy mix and secure the demand side.
Mr. Daniel Azzopardi, representing the Maltese government currently holding the EU Presidency, indicated that one of their priorities will be to draw attention on the Mediterranean. The Maltese Presidency will raise awareness of the UfM energy platforms and will ask to speed-up progress on their activities at the next EU informal Energy Minister meeting, which will take place on 18 and 19 May in Malta.
Panellists indicated that Russian gas will remain necessary for European consumption. However, the integration of gas from Mediterranean countries in the European energy market would allow a diversification of routes, suppliers, sources and offer options.
The discovery of gas in the East part of the Mediterranean, qualified of “the new Norway”, is expected to encourage regional cooperation, according to the panel. It also represents an opportunity for Egypt, which is already equipped with export facilities and infrastructures, underlined the speakers.
Increasing the role of gas in the energy transition would entail risks and opportunities, stated the panel. Increase of energy security, competitiveness and investments, contribution to a sustainable and a resilient society as well as the reinforcement of the peace in the region were cited as opportunities, while the difficult bilateral cooperation among some Mediterranean countries was mentioned as a challenge.
To conclude, the organiser thanked the MEPs for their participation, stressing the importance of raising awareness in the European Parliament and the broader EU stakeholders’ sphere of the needed conditions for enabling the region’s gas potential to reach the European gas market. The event intended to create a sense of urgency to accelerate developments in the current UfM Gas Platform and sought to build an interest about the region and gas to facilitate the process among MEPs.
The presentations are available here.