Energy Minister in Israel to seal nat gas pipeline

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Minister of Energy George Papanastasiou is in Israel to meet his Israeli counterpart to discuss the possible import of natural gas and build the associated infrastructure.

He also hopes to resolve a long-running dispute on sharing the rights of the Aphrodite reservoir in the Cypriot EEZ that touches the Yishai field in Israel.

Papanastasiou’s visit to the neighbouring country follows a workshop in Nicosia to gauge interest in constructing a pipeline to transport natural gas from Israel to Cyprus for electricity generation and possible exports to international markets via an LNG terminal.

According to the Ministry, Papanastasiou will meet his Israeli counterpart, Israel Katz, followed by a meeting of the two countries’ delegations on Thursday.

“They will discuss alternative solutions for the transport of natural gas from the Eastern Mediterranean to Cyprus for electricity generation and exports to international markets.”

The ministry added that the agenda also includes the commencement of consultations between the two countries at concluding a bilateral cooperation agreement for the construction of infrastructure linking the two counties with a natural gas pipeline and a power cable.

The two delegations will also discuss the negotiating timeframe concerning the dispute between Aphrodite gas reserves in the Cypriot EEZ and adjacent Yishai in the Israeli EEZ.

About 7% to 9% of the Aphrodite field is located within Israel’s territorial waters and held by a partnership of three Israeli companies: Israel Opportunity Company, Eden Energy and Nammax.

Between 2012 and 2019, unproductive negotiations were held between Israel and Cyprus to resolve the dispute between the Cypriot desire to acquire the rights of the Israeli companies and the group’s wishes to remain a partner in the field, even if a minor one.

Cyprus and Israel are working on a deal to build a pipeline that will convey natural gas to the island, where it will be liquefied for export by ship to Europe and potentially elsewhere.

Once the deal is signed, the pipeline could be completed in 18 months, and if investors are secured, it will take 2 ½ years to build a liquefaction plant.

So far, five sizeable gas deposits have been discovered off Cyprus.

Israel has 11 such fields: the biggest, named Leviathan, contains an estimated 22 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Papanastasiou has met energy companies licensed to explore for oil and gas inside Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone – including French Total, Italy’s Eni, ExxonMobil and Chevron – to scope out ways of collaborating on projects that would expedite getting their gas discoveries to market.

A proposal for a pipeline to convey Cypriot and Egyptian gas to liquefaction plans in Egypt for export remains separate from the Israeli plan.