The owners of the rights in an Israeli natural gas field next to Cyprus’ Aphrodite reservoir have asked the Israeli government to take steps to stop the island signing a gas deal with Egypt as this would affect their interests, reports said.
Israeli business news portal Globes said the owners of the rights in the Ishai licence, a continuation of the Cypriot Aphrodite gas reservoir on the Israeli side of the boundary between the two countries’ economic zones, wrote to Petroleum Commissioner Yosi Wurzburger and to Minister of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources, Yuval Steinitz claiming that the extraction of gas on the Cypriot side would lead to the extraction of gas from Ishai as well.
In Nicosia, a government source rebuffed the demand, according to the Cyprus News Agency.
“The claim, which is old, is unreasonable since they have officially admitted that the quantity discovered at Ishai is negligible and cannot be recovered,” the source told the agency.
The Israeli demand followed reports that Cyprus was in talks with Egypt to export gas from Aphrodite.
Shell is also reported to be in talks about buying gas from the Aphrodite and Israel’s Leviathan reservoirs.
The owners of Ishai, which holds between seven and 10bcm, asked “what future steps will be taken in order to safeguard Israel’s rights in Aphrodite, such that Cyprus will not be able to proceed with the signing of an agreement without approval from the State of Israel.”
The chairman of Israel Opportunity, one of the partners in Ishai, suggested that allowing the deal to go ahead without taking their interests into account would be a dangerous precedent that could affect other reservoirs in the region.
“Such behaviour will lead to a significant loss of state revenue,” Rony Halman said.
Israel’s ministry of national infrastructures responded that “development of the reservoir necessitates agreement between the parties on safeguarding the rights of both countries in the reservoir, and a dialogue is taking place with Cyprus on the matter.”