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Talks with Israel over disputed gas field going ‘quite well’

Talks between Cyprus and Israel are on the right track as regards Israel’s Yishai gas field which is adjacent to Cyprus’ Aphrodite field, Energy Minister Natasa Pilides said on Wednesday after her first video conference with her Israeli counterpart Yuval Steinitz.
Pilides told the Cyprus News Agency that a special agreement is being discussed that exclusively concerns the Aphrodite gas field and not block 12 in general to which the field belongs.

Next week, she said, there will be a discussion between the permanent secretaries of the two ministries, adding that talks on the issue “are going quite well”.
She added that following the submission of Cyprus’ detailed proposals and the relevant agreements Nicosia signed last November with the energy companies interested in developing the reserve, Israel has started to examine the issue and expressed interest in resolving it soon.

The Cypriot government granted the Noble Energy, Shell, and Delek consortium an exploitation licence for the Aphrodite gas field. The companies intended to pipe the gas to neighbouring Egypt. Noble Energy has since been bought out by Chevron.

But Israel claims a share of the production of Aphrodite, as a small portion of the reservoir stretches into the Yishai field. Despite negotiations in the last few years, the two countries have not reached an agreement.

Pilides did not rule out a meeting in Israel on the issue next September, during which the two countries will also discuss the EuroAsia Interconnector project. The project concerns connecting the national electricity grids of Israel, Cyprus and Greece aimed at ending Cyprus’ energy isolation of Cyprus and promote the substantial development of renewable energy sources (RES).
The two ministers also discussed the latest approvals by the parliaments of Greece, Cyprus and Israel of the transnational agreement for the East Med gas pipeline.

“We are now ready to move on to the next stage, with the establishment of a working group that will discuss issues related to the project,” Pilides said.

Cyprus parliament ratified last month the agreement signed last January between the three countries on the East Med pipeline aimed to connect the gas reserves of the eastern Mediterranean with Europe.

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