Israel Opposes Cypriot Gas Project
Israel opposes development of the Aphrodite gas field off Cyprus until a dispute between the two countries over hydrocarbon resources straddling their border is resolved, the director general of the Israeli energy ministry Udi Adiri said in a letter to the project’s investors.
Israel’s Delek Drilling, US-based Noble Energy and Shell recently recently secured a production licence from Cypriot authorities for Aphrodite, estimated to hold 4.1 trillion ft3 of gas. First gas is expected in 2025.
Aphrodite borders the Israeli-issued Yishai licence, whose developers claim around 10% of Aphrodite’s resources are situated in Israel’s exclusive economic zone, although sources at Aphrodite’s investors say the share is much smaller. The Yishai operators – which include Israel Opportunity Energy Resources, Nammax Oil and Gas, Eden Energy Discoveries and AGR Petroleum Services Holdings have called on the Israel government to defend its rights.
Cyprus Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said on December 9 that Aphrodite’s development and efforts to reach a border agreement with Israel were unrelated. But he added that: “with or without a deal, if it is proven that there is natural gas which is on the Israeli side and is being pumped out by our side, the Republic of Cyprus will of course compensate the Israeli side accordingly.”
Cyprus and Israel have struggled to reach a consensus on how to divide up shared resources, despite efforts by the pair to expand ties in the energy sector. The heads of states of Cyprus, Israel and Greece meet two times each year to discuss increased energy and security cooperation.
Israel is in a difficult position, as senior of the partners at Aphrodite – Noble Energy and Delek – are big stakeholders in the Israeli gas sector. As such it has been reluctant to confront the companies about its resource rights.
It is still unclear how Aphrodite’s development will take shape, as a final investment decision is not expected for another few years.