By Stelios Orphanides
Cyprus may start selling natural gas to Egypt by as early as in 2018 if the two countries reach a final agreement to link Cyprus’s first natural gas finding in Aphrodite field operated by US Noble Energy Inc. to one of Egypt’s liquefactions plants in Idku or Damietta, Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis said.
The two countries agreed yesterday to speed up talks to export Cypriot gas to Egypt via underwater pipeline. The gas could then be both used to cover the country’s energy needs and be liquefied for export.
Before a final decision is taken, questions remain to be cleared including studying the morphology of the seabed or the potential use of existing infrastructure, Lakkotrypis said.
“For instance, there are some facilities near Idku which could save us 80 kilometers of pipeline,” he said in an interview with state radio CyBC today and added “the most important thing is to see who the counterparty is, whether it is solvent, whether it has guarantees, whether it is in our interest to go ahead with Idku or Damienta”.
The companies managing the terminals are prepared to construct the pipeline, “i.e. British Gas in the one case and Union Fenosa in the other, but this is something that will be examined now,” the minister said.
The construction of the pipeline to Egypt could begin before that of infrastructure that would allow the processing of the Aphrodite natural gas in situ, which would allow “recoverability of the reserve and the use of the gas at the domestic market,” the minister said.
He added that at a later stage, the proposed pipeline could be also extended to tap gas from Israel’s Leviathan reserve.