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Egypt and Turkey's energy face-off in the Mediterranean

Egypt signing an agreement with five major energy companies to start drilling in the Mediterranean off its coast near Libya raises the prospect of more friction developing with Turkey.

The US Geological Survey estimates there to be 122 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas reserves in the Mediterranean's Leviathan Basin, and the countries in the region are on a quest to acquire what they consider their rightful share.

The competition over gas resources expanded in mid-February when Egyptian announced an agreement with US-based Chevron and ExxonMobil, France's Total, BP of Britain, and Royal Dutch Shell to explore for gas off its northwestern coast near Libya. Cairo expects exploratory drilling to begin early next year. The agreement intensified tensions with Turkey, which in November signed controversial maritime and military memoranda of understanding with Libya's UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.

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