Israel is demanding 5 per cent of more of the production from the distribution of natural gas in a joint offshore reservoir, reports in the neighbouring country said Friday.
Quoting daily business newspaper TheMarker, Haaretz said Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz told Cypriot leaders on Tuesday that Israel wants 5 per cent or more from the joint Aphrodite-Yishai natural gas field in the southeast.
Steinitz, who attended a meeting in Nicosia with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Nicos Anastasiades, said afterwards in public that the dispute could be settled within six months but did not elaborate on Israel’s position.
“The professional opinion of the [Israeli] government is that at least 5 per cent of the reservoir is Israeli,” said an Israeli official who asked not to be named, according to Haaretz. “The dispute with the Cypriots is about how the Israeli share will be guaranteed because it’s the Cypriots who will be developing the field.”
The two sides said recently that if the companies involved failed to come to an agreement, the matter will be hire an expert to offer a compromise.
The Israelis estimate the quantity of gas on their side at 7-10 billion cubic metres (bcm), while the gas in the Cypriot section of the reservoir, owned by Yitzhak Tshuva-controlled Delek Group, is estimated at 100bcm.
Since the gas in the Yishai prospect on the Israeli side is part of a single geological reservoir, its production depends on agreements between the two countries.
Israel and Cyprus signed a delineation agreement in 2010 but haven’t agreed so far on how to develop gas reservoirs straddling both economic zones.
In the absence of a distribution agreement, Israel is refusing to allow Cyprus to develop Aphrodite, because pumping gas from it will also cause gas to be pumped from the Yishai prospect.