Maritime Boundary Delimitation Agreements in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea - Chapter 3 - Natural Resources and the Law of the Sea - International Law Institute Series on International Law, Arbitration and Practice, Volume 2
Over the last years, offshore oil and gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea (East Med) have attracted the interest of several renowned international oil companies (IOCs). Although onshore hydrocarbon activities in the region have been taking place for decades, the significant reserves found in the seabed and subsoil have brought the law of the sea into the spotlight as the regional States seek to collaborate within the legal framework of the law of the sea to reap the benefits from the hydrocarbon bonanza.
Bearing in mind the importance of maritime delimitation with respect to exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons found in the seabed and subsoil, this chapter aims to examine the East Med States’ maritime boundary delimitation agreements, namely those concluded between Egypt and Cyprus, Lebanon and Cyprus, and Israel and Cyprus. To this end, the chapter scrutinizes the importance of maritime delimitation and current trends in international case law, briefly presents the claims set out by the regional States, and analyzes the maritime boundary delimitation agreements. The chapter examines the three Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) delimitation agreements together for coherence, for their wording is virtually identical. The fundamental role of maritime delimitation law in terms of hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation activities is aptly illustrated in the case of the East Med, where the regional States sought to define their maritime boundaries prior to carrying out oil and gas operations without hindrance. The East Med paradigm demonstrates the willingness of States to cooperate in good faith with respect to oil and gas activities within the ambit of the law of the sea rules, both conventional and customary, as well as their preference to the median line/equidistance method over the equitable principles/relevant circumstances method.