Only by combining their forces will Israel and Cyprus be able to make a
significant dent in the global natural gas economy, the Cypriot energy minister
stressed on Tuesday.
“We feel that through a close collaboration with
Israel we will be able to be a major player in the world energy market,
something that for each country individually might be too hard to achieve,” said
Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Yiorgos
Lakkotrypis was addressing a group of Israeli and Cypriot
business leaders and government officials at a seminar entitled “Cyprus: An
International and Professional Center,” held in Tel Aviv on Tuesday afternoon
and hosted by the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Cyprus Energy,
Commerce, Industry and Tourism Ministry, in association with the Federation of
Israeli Chambers of Commerce.
While the participants from approximately
100 Israeli companies and 30 Cypriot firms ranged in fields “from milk to gas,”
the focus of leaders from both countries remained largely on the Mediterranean
natural resource that each of the nations has come to enjoy.
of gas discovered in each country respectively might be considered small
individually, but, by working together, Israel and Cyprus have the capability to
“create the third pillar of energy routes” in the world, according to
“What an unbelievable opportunity we have as two countries
to play a role in the energy market that is shaping as we speak, worldwide,” he
Lakkotrypis and the Cypriot businessmen and women had arrived in
Israel as part of a larger delegation that includes Cypriot President Nicos
Anastasiades and officials from the country’s Foreign Affairs
Echoing Lakkotrypis’s comments, Anastasiades likewise stressed
during the seminar that natural gas “can become the driving force” for
partnership between Israel and Cyprus.
Natural gas finds from the Tamar
reservoir’s 250 billion cubic-meters are already flowing into Israel, to be used
for domestic purposes only. The neighboring, more than double-sized Leviathan
reservoir should be providing gas within the next few years, and will likely be
doing so in both an export and domestic capacity – pending government approval
of an export policy.
Cyprus’s first explored basin, the Aphrodite
reservoir in Block 12 adjacent to Leviathan, is estimated to contain about 198
billion cu. m. of gas and is being drilled by some of the same partners working
on the Israeli reservoirs – Houston-based Noble Energy and Israel-based Delek
Drilling and Avner Oil Exploration.
There are two other clumps also
slated for exploration in the Cypriot zone, under a combination of Italian,
Korean and French firms.
Israel and Cyprus signed a delimitation
agreement on their Exclusive Economic Zones in 2010, and a framework agreement
is now underway concerning the development of cross-border hydrocarbon
management, Lakkotrypis explained.
Anastasiades likewise confirmed that
his administration would “remain dedicated to proceeding expeditiously with the
conclusion of a framework agreement.”
At Aphrodite, the American and
Israeli cohort should conclude drilling an appraisal well by October 2013, after
which the team can determine for sure that its contents are proven reserves with
commercial capacity, the minister said.
Gas flow from Aphrodite should
start between 2020 and 2021, Lakkotrypis added.
Simultaneous to the
exploration of Cypriot reservoirs, plans are unfolding to construct an onshore
liquefied natural gas (LNG) generation plant, in order to facilitate the export
of the country’s gas.
While “the decision to go for an LNG terminal was
not taken lightly” and is considered very expensive, the plant will allow for
the most flexibility in Cyprus’s export options, Lakkotrypis
Unlike Israel, Cyprus is not facing much resistance among its
citizens toward the idea of exporting gas, as the quantities likely found in the
reservoirs are “very small compared to the needs of the country,” Lakkotrypis
The Cypriot government is therefore working with Noble Energy
on developing its future LNG plant, which will likely be completed by 2019 or
2020. As competition around the world for natural gas surges – particularly due
to the United States’ massive shale gas discoveries – moving quickly with the
plant’s construction “is super critical,” Lakkotrypis said.
president of the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, emphasized that
cooperation on natural gas and on other business ventures between the two
countries would be beneficial “for our region as a whole.”
this growing partnership, an Israeli business delegation would be officially
visiting Cyprus in June, Lynn said.
Christakis Papavasilious, president
of the Israel-Cyprus Business Association, emphasized “the new historic era”
that Cyprus and Israel are entering together, and that the two countries should
rely on each other in order to push forward.
“The discovery of energy
resources in our region has created a very strong impetus in our relations,”
Papavasilious said. “There is no turning back.”
president of the Israel- Cyprus Chamber of Commerce, called the gas discoveries
a “gift from mother nature” and stressed the need for middlesized energy firms
in both countries to pursue connections with one and other.
At a luncheon
that the Cypriot president attended earlier that day in Jerusalem with President
Shimon Peres, Anastasiades spoke of “inaugurating a new era” for the two
countries due to the natural gas discoveries.
“We are both committed to
working together and we have a common blessing in our seas,” he said. “God has
blessed us with energy and it is our duty to see how we can secure each
Anastasiades expressed his feeling that Cyprus truly “needs”
Israel and that he did not expect Israel to need Cyprus to the same extent in
return. That being said, he declared his country to be a “reliable and credible
friend and brother,” and voiced the hope that both countries should enjoy
stability, peace and prosperity.
Describing both countries as islands –
Cyprus in the geographic sense and Israel in the political sense – Peres noted
that the two nations share many similarities and reciprocal
“Without Cyprus, we would be far from Europe,” Peres said. “We
see in Cyprus a friend – politically and geographically.”
In order to
secure that European mainland connection, the two countries will need to work
together by combining their resources to achieve a new route of energy,
Lakkotrypis stressed back at the business seminar.
“None of our two
countries individually can make a big difference,” Lakkotrypis said. “The
quantities that we have are negligible compared to the total needs that Europe
has and will have.”
“We are living in very important times, very exciting
times for both countries,” he continued. “We have our fair share of challenges,
but the prospects do remain excellent.”