Israel’s demand to be involved in the development approval processes of the gas findings in Block 12 – ‘Aphrodite’ – of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is delaying the signing of a co-operation agreement with Cyprus, and possibly development of the reservoir, according to Globes.co.il, an Israeli business portal.
The website said Cyprus and Israel have been in negotiations over arrangements for the joint development of oil and natural gas reservoirs shared by the two countries, including a project to build a shared pipeline for exporting natural gas to Europe and laying an electrical cable between Israel and Cyprus.
Citing unnamed sources, the website said Israeli Energy minister Yuval Steinitz is delaying a trip to Cyprus until the negotiations were finished.
Israel claims the Aphrodite reservoir extends into its own EEZ, thus legitimising its demand to be included in the approval of development of the discovered reserve.
The Cypriot government, Globes said, is willing to discuss the matter, but no agreement has been reached.
“A senior Israeli source involved in the negotiations told Globes that the demand for co-operation in development of the reservoir is based on international law and practice in similar drillings around the world,” the website reported.
“The Cypriot government is willing to discuss co-operation in the development of the Aphrodite reservoir with Israel, and wants to finish the talks about the unitisation agreement as soon as possible,” it quoted government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides as saying.
Noble Energy confirmed the discovery of 3.6 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of gas in Aphrodite in 2013.
Exploratory drilling close to Block 12, in Israel’s EEZ, revealed signs of gas, but not enough to justify commercial drilling.
But this was enough to support Israel’s demand for approval rights in the development of the Aphrodite findings.
Meanwhile, more than delaying agreement on co-operation between Israel and Cyprus, the matter could actually be complicating development of the reserve itself.
“An agreement will strengthen the ties between the two countries, and give investors a signal that it is safe to invest,” said Michael Leigh, a senior advisor to the German Marshall Fund, a US entity.