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Egypt's Gift From God

What the Discovery of Offshore Gas Means for Cairo

A woman carries a gas cylinder distributed by the army in Cairo, December 6, 2011.  Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters

On August 30, the Italian state-controlled energy company Eni announced the discovery of a “supergiant” gas field off the coast of Egypt. According to initial assessments, the Zohr field contains 30 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas (equivalent to 5.5 billion barrels of oil), making it the largest ever discovery of gas in the Mediterranean. This is welcome news for Egypt's struggling economy and fragile political situation. It also creates new challenges and opportunities for the country's neighbors and for outside powers such as Vladimir Putin's Russia. Additionally, it provides powerful economic incentives for Cypriot reunification. As the United States takes stock of what Egypt's good fortune means for the region, it should find much cause for celebration.

The Zohr field is the latest in a series of large offshore gas discoveries in the eastern Mediterranean. In 2009 and 2010, Israel celebrated the discovery of the Tamar and Leviathan fields, which together hold up

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