The Republic of Cyprus says development of Aphrodite’s natural gas reservoir will go forward as planned, after reports said a letter from Israel called on energy companies to halt operations until the two countries settled all pending issues.
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According to the Cyprus News Agency, Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis on Monday said the Aphrodite gas field was being developed as planned, adding that the issue of regulating the rights on the “Yishai” and “Aphrodite” reservoirs was “not a precondition for the development of the Cypriot gas field.”
Lakkotrypis, who made the statements just before attending the Annual General Meeting of the Cyprus Chamber Of Commerce and Industry, was asked to comment on a report and a subsequent statement by the Israeli Embassy in Nicosia.
'I wish to advise you that the State of Israel has not relinquished its share of the Aphrodite-Yishai natural gas reservoir, and has no intention of doing so'
According to Globes, Israel’s Energy Ministry director general Udi Adiri told Shell, Noble and Delek that the companies could not develop the Cypriot reservoir until a border dispute with Israel's Yishai field was settled.
"I wish to advise you that the State of Israel has not relinquished its share of the Aphrodite-Yishai natural gas reservoir, and has no intention of doing so," Adiri wrote.
The Israeli ministry official also pointed out that the Aphrodite-Yishai field is a cross-border natural gas reservoir, saying that the two countries had not yet agreed on a finalized deal.
But the Cypriot minister told CNA that the process for reaching a special agreement was not connected to Aphrodite’s development, a gas field that was first discovered in 2011.
“The most important thing I want to stress is that these two things… are not connected as far as the Cypriot side is concerned,” Lakkotrypis said.
Last November, the Republic of Cyprus signed a 25-year concession with Noble Energy, Shell and Delek Drilling, which included a revised production sharing contract, aiming to start natural gas production in 2025.
Cyprus reassures Israel island would compensate
“With or without a deal, if it is proven that there is natural gas on the Israeli side and is pumped out by our side, the Republic of Cyprus will certainly compensate the Israel side accordingly” the Cypriot minister said.
“We would certainly prefer to have this framework in place, to regulate the operation, but I must stress that this is not a precondition to continue with the development of Aphrodite” the Minister noted, reiterating that “with or without an agreement in place, no side will abolish their rights.”
The Israeli embassy in Nicosia said it stood by the position of the director general, adding that Israel is ready to continue talks aimed at regulating the rights on the “Yishai” and “Aphrodite” gas fields.
The Aphrodite field holds an estimated 4.1 trillion cubic feet of gas, while the quantity in dispute is said to be a small fraction of the gas already discovered in Israel.