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How will development of new natgas fields impact the Middle East?

October 28, 2013

Not much, argues Paul Rivlin of Israel’s Dayan Center (pdf):

” . . . even if Cyprus and Israel (and later perhaps Lebanon and Syria) decide to export gas it will not be a game-changer. Much of the speculation about dramatic changes in the strategic balance because of East Mediterranean gas has been exaggerated. The benefits to an industrialized country like Israel will be substantial if the revenues are used for investment rather than consumption, and a stronger economy will strengthen the country’s strategic position too. This will also be true for other countries in the region if they use the revenues correctly. These kinds of gains will be more significant than some of the grandiose export schemes that have been proposed.

In other words, Rivlin sees real potential for local economic benefits, but little chance that gas will re-order the geopolitical landscape.  Indeed, the gas bounty might well increase tensions as everyone vies for a larger piece of the pie.

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