Cyprus says accord nears with Israel on Aphrodite gas

Leviathan

Cypriot Energy Minister Georgios Lakkotrypis says there are friendly talks on issues such as unitization and the extension of the field into Israel waters.

Earlier this week, "Globes" revealed that according to Israeli sources Israel's Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources Dr. Yuval Steinitz delayed a visit to Cyprus to discuss future cooperation in joint energy projects. The reason was reportedly because of disagreements between Israel and Cyprus over development of the Aphrodite reservoir. Israeli government officials, it was said believe that Aphrodite discovered in Bloc 12 in Cypriot economic waters, extends into Israeli waters and the area of the Yishai license.

In an interview with "Globes" Cypriot Minister of Energy, Commerce, Industry & Tourism Georgios Lakkotrypis asserted there was no delay in the development of Aphrodite or in the negotiations leading to the signing of a unitization agreement between Israel and Cyprus.

Regarding these matters and Steinitz's visit, Lakkotrypis said the relations between the two sides were "fantastic". "I had a discussion on the phone with my Israeli counterpart (Minister of Energy Dr. Yuval Steinitz A.B.) two weeks ago" said the Cypriot minister "and in our last conversation even though at the beginning we said 'let's see if we can have progress on the discussions for the unitization and then I can visit' in the last conversation we said 'let's not wait for that, let's find a date' - so it's just a matter of logistics, and it's completely not true that he delayed his visit for that reason".

Regarding the negotiations Lakkotrypis said," There has been an agreed process and a structured dialogue which has begun and it has been followed. There was an exchange of geological data in June 2014, it's processed and we've been looking for a date (for a meeting) for the two teams and next month there is technical discussion to determine whether it extends (Aphrodite reserve A.B). Both countries are discussing in good faith and it's been outlined on many occasions that both countries will respect the other country's rights over its national resources".

The unitization agreement was slated for signing at the same time as a marine border agreement signed in 2010. Since that time, however, the signing has been postponed because of disagreements on matters of principle and various technical matters. Israeli sources involved in the negotiations told "Globes" that the main reason for the current delay was the quantity of gas in Israeli territory and the extent of Israel's involvement in development of the reservoir.

While some sources allege that only 3% of the reservoir is in Israel territory, Israel asserts that the percentage is much higher, and wants to be part of the development plan for the reservoir. Negotiations have been taking place between the parties for over five years. Steinitz has been invited by Cyprus to discuss the promotion of such projects as a joint gas pipeline for gas exports to Europe and laying an undersea power cable between Israel and Cyprus that will eventually connect to the European grid.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on October 16, 2015

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2015

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