In a lecture given at the Transit - Global Energy and Political Trends conference at the University of Haifa, US ambassador to Israel Richard Jones spoke about the importance of multiple energy routes to help secure a supply of gas and oil to the Middle East and Asia. Congratulating the newly established Center for Advanced Energy Studies at the University of Haifa, Jones commented on the growing role of transit states in securing the world energy market for years to come.
"Our goal is to diversify energy supply routes. Commercially viable export routes will promote regional cooperation and create a win-win energy policy," explained the ambassador.
"We seek to encourage multiple pipelines in order to secure the transfer of energy and guarantee that supply will not be disrupted. This is a general policy and should not be seen as directed against any particular country," said Jones, referring to Russia.
Commenting on the Caspian basin reserves, the ambassador noted that Kazakhstan had the potential to triple its oil production by 2015 and help address growing demand for oil in Europe and the Middle East. He added that the US strongly supported the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline (BTC) project and the route that is currently being built in Georgia.
"Multiple outlets are particularly important in the context of the Caspian Sea," said Jones.
The US believes that Caspian Sea reserves are crucial for the changing energy market. According to petroleum scientists, the Caspian Sea region contains the third largest oil and natural gas reserves in the world after the Gulf region and Siberia. The US estimates that Caspian oil production will double by the year 2010. This development would rein in the monopoly that Russia is currently exercising over much of the gas supply in the region. Jones described the current situation as "unhealthy."
"We would like our partners to understand that we are not only interested in their contribution to the oil and gas markets - but more so, we are interested in seeing rising standards of living for their citizens," concluded Jones.
According to Mehmet Ali Bayar, a Turkish energy expert, by the year 2020, Europe will lack over 300 million bcm per year and hence growth of energy supply and transfer mechanisms are vital for the future of Europe. Mehmet further said that Israel may find itself playing a more important role as a transit country, thanks to the Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline.