Greece and Egypt have agreed to resume talks on the delineation of an offshore economic exploitation zone, suspended for over a year because of political and social turmoil in the North African country, during a meeting between foreign ministers in Rome.
Meeting on the fringes of the Mediterranean Forum on Monday, Greek Foreign Minister Stavros Dimas and his Egyptian counterpart Mohamed Kamel Amr agreed to launch a fresh round of contacts between experts from both countries.
The carving up of exclusive economic zones (EEZ) is usually seen as a first step toward oil and gas exploration. Close Greek ally Cyprus has already signed an EEZ deal with its neighbors, allowing it to drill for natural gas off its southern coast.
Debt-wracked Greece is said to be interested in conducting oil exploration in the country’s west hoping to raise cash and attract investment.
As well as Egypt, the government is reportedly also interested in restarting negotiations with Libya, currently on hold because of lingering violence in the country four months after the death of ex-leader Muammar Gadhafi.
In a meeting with Libyan Foreign Minister Ashour Ben Khayal, Dimas discussed the possibility of importing oil from the country. Greece is seeking alternative sources of crude after the European Union imposed sanctions on Iran’s fuel exports amid a dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program. An oil embargo is set to come into force in July.
Last weekend Iran announced it was halting its oil sales to France and Britain in retaliation for a phased EU ban on its crude, which has yet to take full effect.
This year’s Mediterranean Forum, which brings together foreign ministers from the region, tackled a number of pressing issues including economic assistance for the conflict-torn countries of North Africa and ways of tackling immigration pressure on Europe.