PhD Position on Eastern Mediterranean oil and gas discoveries, regional geopolitics and economic development issues (part of the SALGIANT project)

I am pleased to announce the launch of the SALGIANT network and more specifically the research task Eastern Mediterranean oil and gas discoveries, regional geopolitics and economic development issues, which involves the recruitment of a young research for a PhD related to this issue, under my supervision.

SALTGIANT is a rare cross-disciplinary network of natural and social scientists dedicated to understanding the formation of the Mediterranean Salt Giant, one of the largest salt deposits on Earth, and its implications for sub-seafloor microbial life, risk assessment in the oil industry, geo-economics of the Mediterranean region and the history of oceanography.

source: (Credit: Lofi et al. Seismic atlas 2, in prep.)

source: (Credit: Lofi et al. Seismic atlas 2, in prep.)

SALTGIANT brings together 24 academic organizations (13 beneficiaries, 11 partners), 6 private sector Oil&Gas companies, 2 mining sector companies, 1 biotechnology company, 1 geopolitics think tank, 1 museum and 1 specialist in transferable skills training from 11 countries to stimulate interdisciplinary and intersectorial knowledge exchange between geologists, geophysicists, geochemists, microbiologist, geographers and historians in a network with PhD students at its core.

SALTGIANT combines (i) geological and geochemical field work, (ii) laboratory measurements and experiments, (iii) numerical modelling at a wide range of spatial and temporal scales and (iv) empirical social sciences data collection and analysis, guaranteeing exposure of the research fellows to state-of-the-art scientific knowledge and hands-on practical training in a field rich in applications of both intellectual and societal relevance.

PhD Position: Eastern Mediterranean oil and gas discoveries and regional geopolitics and economic development issues


The PhD will examine the impact of recent discoveries of natural gas under salt deposits on the geopolitics and the economic development of the whole region. It will do so by mobilizing a geographical approach, with a relational understanding of matters, capital, people and ideas that will enrich the more classical accounts of international relations and development studies. The project asks whether the cooperative/competitive strategies designed to exploit the new resources can challenge the existing political and economic order at three levels: the internal country level, the regional one, and between the region and the neighboring countries:

  1. at the internal level, the struggle over the control of the new energy flows will go along with new hopes and political schemes to turn the new income into collective (or individual) wealth and national pride.
  2. at the regional level (East Mediterranean), neighboring states, currently in a state of competition if not war, are struggling for accessing to gas resources, including delimiting exclusive economic zone, attracting investments for drilling, as well as pumping and exporting. This process can trigger new conflicts but also push former foes to cooperate, for instance in building common exports routes;
  3. the discoveries may modify the geopolitical relations with distant states and regions, for instance decrease the dependence of Arab Levant states vis-à-vis the Gulf monarchies, hence modifying the political primacy Gulf states gained in recent years.

The research will carry in-depth fieldwork survey in at least one of the countries of the region (including Egypt). The goal is to connect the institutional (technological, scientific, political and economic) framework built to exploit the new resources and the broader national and regional issues regarding economic development and national unity, with an emphasis on the geographical dimension (relations between the Mediterranean shore region and the whole country).

The candidate must hold a masters’ degree in social sciences, preferably geography but also international relations, political sciences, sociology or economics. A minimal command of French is requested (B1 level) in order to interact with the project’s partners. At least a basic knowledge of Arabic will be a strength.

The candidate will strongly engage in the interdisciplinary training activities of the Saltgiant network (see website).

Supervisor : Eric Verdeil, Professor of Geography and Urban Studies, CERI-Sciences Po

Expected results

A monography based on the analysis of the geographic, economic and political
processes involved in the exploitation process, taking into consideration the Egyptian
case, possibly with comparative insights from another Mediterranean case

Planned secondments – SALTGIANT partners ; duration 1-6 month(s) each

(1) CEDEJ : Centre d’études et de documentation juridiques et économiques, Le
Caire. This Cairo based research center, headed by Geographer Karine Bennafla, is
part of the network of Humanities and Social Sciences French Institutes Abroad,
under the joint tutelage of the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and the National
Center for Scientific Research.

(2) University of Durham (UK)/Dept of Geography/International Borders Research Unit: Prof. Gavin Bridge is currently leading a research endeavor oriented toward the new geopolitics of offshore in the Eastern Mediterranean (which is currently in the process of submission to various European funding). The PhD candidate will greatly benefit from the theoretical and
comparative insights developed in this unit.

(3) IPEMED : Institut de prospective économique du Monde méditerranéen. The Institut is based in Paris. The PhD candidate will spend two months at the Institute and will be involved in their
activities, and beneficit from their knowledge of the business networks in this region
(M. J.-L. Guigou, director; P. Bekouche, scientific advisor).


Geopolitics; socio-technical studies; geography of energy

Send application via by 20/04/2018 as well as through Sciences Po Doctoral School. Be in touch with the supervisor: Eric Verdeil :

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