Egypt eyes Cyprus’ untapped natural gas riches

Egyptian Oil Minister Sherif Ismail said his country was willing to receive as much gas as Cyprus is able to export. (Photo courtesy of Rlserve.com)

Cyprus and energy-starved Egypt agreed Tuesday to speed up procedures on the prospect of exporting natural gas from the Mediterranean island to the North African country, officials said.

Egyptian Oil Minister Sherif Ismail said his country was willing to receive as much gas as Cyprus is able to export.

“Egypt has a very huge (natural gas) infrastructure and can accommodate the production coming from Cyprus,” Ismail told reporters in Nicosia.

Egypt had a shortfall of about 700 million standard cubic feet that needed to be met by imports, Ismail said after talks with Cypriot Energy Minister George Lakkotrypis.

In a joint statement, the ministers said the possibility of re-exporting Cypriot gas from Egypt was “an option” being considered.

“They agreed to expedite discussions on exporting Cypriot natural gas to Egypt,” the statement said.

Direct export

Lakkotrypis said the best way for Cyprus to export to Egypt was directly via a pipeline.

“During the next two months we will have before us a technical study about the options regarding these exports,” said Lakkotrypis.

In 2011, US firm Noble Energy discovered the first gas reserves off Cyprus in the Aphrodite field estimated to contain 102-170 billion cubic metres (3.6-6.0 trillion cubic feet).

And in September, Italian-Korean energy consortium ENI-Kogas began deep sea drilling for gas off the divided island at a second block to undergo exploratory tests.

Cyprus has been split since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third in response to an Athens-engineered coup aimed at uniting it with Greece.

Turkey opposes the Cypriot government’s exploitation of offshore hydrocarbon reserves before any reunification deal, but is itself hopeful of finding oil and gas in an area Nicosia has licensed exploratory drills.
 

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:43 - GMT 06:43
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