Cyprus Expects Israel to Drop Aphrodite Concerns
Cyprus expects Israel to drop its opposition to development of the offshore Aphrodite gas field in light of a new pipeline deal they have reached, a Cypriot government spokesman said on January 4.
Israel has said before that Cyprus should hold off on the Aphrodite project until the pair have resolved a dispute over resources. Aphrodite, whose developers are Shell, US-based Noble Energy and Israel’s Delek, straddles a maritime border between the two east Mediterranean countries, with Israel claiming a small share of its 4.1 trillion ft3 of gas.
However, this month Israel, Cyprus and Greece signed an initial deal to develop the EastMed pipeline, which would see Cyprus assist Israel in pumping its offshore gas supply to Europe.
“In the next two to three weeks, our side will send a proposal to the energy ministry of Israel, and we believe that there will be no problems for the exploitation of the Aphrodite field,” Cypriot representative Kyriakos Koushios told local media.
The matter has been discussed with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, he said.
The Aphrodite consortium was awarded a 25-year production licence in November – the first such permit ever issued by Cyprus. The field is slated to start up in 2025 and pump its gas to Egypt via pipeline.
Aphrodite is one of several gas discoveries made off Cyprus over the past decade. The island nation is likely to use some of EastMed’s 10bn m3/yr capacity for its own gas.
Turkey has warned that EastMed will not go ahead without its blessing, however, insisting that Cyprus’ resources must be shared with Northern Cyprus, a de-facto state on part of the island populated by Turkish Cypriots only recognised by Ankara. Turkey received international condemnation last year for moving rigs into UN-recognised Cypriot waters.
Turkish Cypriot officials have claimed EastMed undermines efforts to restart peace talks with Cyprus proper. Hitting back, Koushios said the project would instead “aid in stability and peace in the area.” He noted that any other countries wishing to take part in the project were welcome.