The lack of major iron and, especially, coal reserves within the Mediterranean Basin influenced the industrial development path of the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Steel production has been concentrated in the north (Italy, France, Spain, Turkey and Greece), with a few producers in the south (Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia). Other mining activity in the Mediterranean has focused on mercury (Spain), phosphates (Morocco, and Tunisia), chromite (Albania and Turkey), lead, salt, bauxite (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, France, Greece, Slovenia and Montenegro) and zinc (Spain and Morocco).
The existence of oil and gas reserves located in Algeria, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Libya and Syria motivate the presence of more than 40 refineries and petrochemical installations around the Mediterranean that produce ammonia, methanol, urea, ethylene, naphtha, propylene, butane, butadiene, aromatics, and other industrial chemicals. In addition to the mining, petrochemical, and metallurgy sectors, a highly diverse industrial manufacturing sector includes the manufacture of foods, textiles, leather, paper, cement, and chemicals, including fertilisers. However, the geographical distribution of industrial activities in the Mediterranean Basin is uneven, with most industry
concentrated in the northwest, particularly in Italy, France, and Spain.
In the Mediterranean there are almost no tides and steady waves to deploy ocean energy technologies. Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion may be feasible but is still in an early development stage. Onshore wind and PV installations close to the coast may be considered as part of the Blue Economy but are seen in this report as Green Economy. Today the only commercially available sustainable, i.e. renewable, energy technology that can potentially be deployed in the Mediterranean Sea is offshore wind.
Due to deep waters, mainly floating wind turbines would be feasible but while experience with this technology is growing, it is not widely available yet. Overall the offshore renewable energy sector in the Mediterranean is still almost not existent as there are no commercial offshore wind projects yet. Deployment can be expected once costs further decrease; the latest tenders for offshore wind the North Sea are quite promising in this regard.
44% of the Med area are either contracted or designated for oil & gas exploration (WWF 2015 Medtrends) – this poses a risk that those zones, especially the ones in the Eastern Mediterranean, may be explored at one point, potentially leading to increased pollution. In addition to the emission of greenhouse gases, offshore oil and gas operations in a sea with considerable seismic activity come with a risk of accidents and oil spills posing a real threat to the fragile Mediterranean ecosystem.
The environmental pressures on the Mediterranean coastal marine environment generated by this broad range of industrial activities are multiple and varied, including the use of territory and natural resources (both marine and non-marine), the generation of waste and the release of pollutants into the atmosphere and water bodies.