A complex political makeup with a lack of cooperation constitutes a major obstacle for investors.

Europe is going through the first real energy crisis of all time. The continent is at the epicenter of energetic upheavals that complicate matters. The war in Ukraine exposed the problem of Europe's energy security, verifying those who were seriously concerned about such developments. It became clear, that continuing to rely on Russia's energy was no longer acceptable.

Despite early warnings in previous decades, officials in Brussels had preferred to ignore them. But after Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February and the energy nightmare began things changed. Problems around energy supplies for Europe started to appear. Russia gradually began preventing amounts of gas from reaching Europe, creating "an artificial tightening of markets" resulting in higher prices. More specifically, Russia decided to start to decrease and finally stop gas flows through Nord Stream, the largest single gas pipeline between Russia and Europe.

A red alert for the EU was eventually issued. The European leaders decided to react urgently. Measures were necessary to be taken to face undesirable results and hostile actions such as Russia's possible next decision to completely cut off the gas supply before Europe could get its storage levels up to 90%. The possibility for Europe of a total interruption of gas supply could not be excluded. They should do all they could to prepare for a long and hard winter. But complaints rose about Europe's slow reaction against the warning signs as Russia threatens to stop gas flows.

Things have been tough and European leaders started to work on it. It had become obvious that concrete actions should be soon undertaken in Europe.

Soon they realized they had to be proactive in this field. It will take not only a firm determination to find the solution, but also overcome the ideological barriers and national restrictions that forbid the best solution. They realized that some proposals that could solve the problems have been unfortunately stuck for years. They started to reexamine them together with the search for new solutions. But the real question is whether something revolutionary could happen soon.

Luckily in times of crisis things can proceed quickly.

Much was proposed with all efforts trying to find ways to maximize gas supplies from other sources, accelerate the deployment of new types of energy production such as solar and wind strengthen low emission energy types, such as renewables and nuclear. The most important of course for Brussels was to take measures to reduce the EU’s reliance on Russian gas imports starting with a plan to cut the overall demand for gas.

While this is a step in the right direction, it is something that will make a real difference much later, and certainly not now. The right response is to secure non-Russia supplies as soon as possible. But for the EU to import an extra 60-80 billion cubic meters of gas, is not an easy task. A long-term solution is ideally a completely new gas supply as part of a new policy framework. The Eastern Mediterranean region represents one of the strategic resource areas in the process of becoming an important gas provider.

If plans for the region are carried out in a timely and successful way, the region's resources can represent a solution at the European level. The Eastern Mediterranean is indeed home to large hydrocarbon resources If developed correctly, it can change the energy situation in the whole region, but it is not easy to increase supplies from there almost immediately.

What makes this basin important is the even larger estimated volume of undiscovered natural gas resources. The region is still underexplored with good prospects of additional reserves. According to a Geological Survey (USGS) assessment of the Eastern Mediterranean region, the total volume of undiscovered and technically recoverable oil and natural gas could be around 5.3 billion barrels.

It is exactly these estimated large amounts of recoverable gas that have opened up the Eastern Mediterranean as a new deep-sea gas region. In Brussels, they start realizing that potential hydrocarbon resources in the Eastern Mediterranean waters could be made exploitable and available replacing the Russian gas imports.

Discoveries in Israel's waters set out the first advanced regional framework for gas. Noble Energy, a company based in the United States, announced that it had also discovered a large gas field near southeastern Cyprus. Besides, other discoveries in Cyprus such as Glaucus and Calypso increased promises but require more drilling to confirm their potential. In Egypt, over 2 trillion cubic meters (m3) of natural gas was found on the Mediterranean side. Also the promising discoveries in Syria and the efforts of Lebanon to reduce gas imports with the hope of also finding gas add value to the very interestingly outlined gas pattern. Discoveries similar to those made offshore Israel and Cyprus have raised hopes of a further increase in the region's hydrocarbon reserves in the future. Last but not least is the case of Turkey, whose positive results are still expected after extensive drilling in its own territories. But the degree of cooperation between Turkey and the other countries. in the region, in an internationally accepted way, remains an unanswered issue

These findings have greatly improved perceptions of the gas potential of the Eastern Mediterranean. Thoughts of development begin to appear but it is not an easy thing because these resources will demand to overcome among others the existing geopolitical barriers. Unfortunately, countries in the region have not yet developed a comprehensive and effective mechanism that addresses today's geopolitical and technological challenges. In this context, it will be difficult to attract businesses to upstream activities resulting unfortunately in the non-exploitation of these resources. Companies will not engage in expensive exploration and development unless they can commercialize their discoveries at a reasonable rate of return. Exploiting such resources needs an almost problem-free environment.

The unresolved issue of maritime boundaries has exacerbated the diplomatic conflict between Israel and Lebanon. Furthermore, the Turkish peculiarities which do not recognize international treaties create problems for the rest of the countries in the region. However, how to manage and contain these conflicts remains an issue. As the geopolitical struggle in the region and its surroundings has become an important component of the policy, it cannot be separated from security considerations in energy. A well-regulated geo-political environment and compliance with international law play an important role. Debates and disputes over maritime boundaries can intensify diplomatic clashes and friction and ultimately prohibit energy considerations.

This crisis might turn into an opportunity, but success is not guaranteed. Natural gas exploration efforts in the region depend on well-prepared projects with a strong political ability to overcome obstacles. The potential for discovered reserves to enter domestic and international markets needs to be carefully considered. Whatever the demand, the development of the discovered fields, that is the conversion of reserves into production capacity, requires serious actions. It can in turn depend on the price of gas sold on the market and the degree of cooperation between national and international regulators.

The discovery of major gas resources in the Eastern Mediterranean, a huge geological structure that straddles the territorial waters of many countries, has the potential to change the game. It may represent the best solution to Europe's energy needs. The region, as an exporter, will be in a position to contribute to the safety of gas supply in Europe. But it can only contribute if everybody in the region cooperates and focuses on technically achievable projects, where long-standing political deadlocks are limited or omitted.

This area with an enormous amount of discovered gas and with huge prospects for more is now the focus of great upstream investors. There are political-minded groups without commercial orientation that play a role in decision-making. Today their prospects are better than they were in the past, but more needs to be done.

The Russian war in Ukraine is reshaping energy maps. The Eastern Mediterranean has the potential to emerge as a significant hydrocarbon supplier for Europe.