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Cyprus signs $9bn contract with Israel to extract gas

Offshore drilling platform in Cyprus [File photo]
Offshore drilling platform in Cyprus [File photo]

Cyprus will earn $9.3 billion over 18 years thanks to the exploitation of the Aphrodite gas field under a renegotiated contract with Dutch-British Shell, US-based Noble, and Israeli company Delek, the Energy Minister for Cyprus, announced.

George Lakkotrypis told reporters that the reworking of the production contract guaranteed Cyprus an average annual income of $520 million over the life of the gas field.

“We believe it is a good contract under the current circumstances as it will allow the Republic of Cyprus to earn significant commercial revenues estimated at more than $9 billion throughout 18 years of the well’s production.”

Under the new deal, companies will commit to a short period for gas reserves exploitation. “Based on the development and production plan we discussed, we expect the first gas quantities to be extracted by 2024-2025,” he said.

Lakkotrypis explained that “the consortium was not previously bound to a deadline.”

Aphrodite gas field is the most significant development project on the island with about $7.9 billion invested in related infrastructure.

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In 2011, Texas-based Noble Energy made its first discovery off the southern coast of Cyprus in the Aphrodite block, which is estimated to contain about 4.5 trillion cubic feet (127 billion cubic meters) of gas that have not been marketed yet.

The discovery of a vast offshore field in nearby Egyptian waters in 2015 raised more interest in exploring similar resources in Cypriot waters.

Cyprus aims to start pumping natural gas through a pipeline to an Egyptian gas liquefaction facility.

Cyprus has continued to explore marine energy resources despite the collapse of talks between the Turkish and Cypriot sides, in 2017, to end the division that lasted for decades in the island which north is occupied by Turkey.

The new agreement has angered Turkey, which seized the northern part of the island in 1974 following a coup sponsored by Greece’s military junta.

Accordingly, Turkey sent drilling vessels into Cyprus exclusive economic zone, last month, after it announced it would begin its energy exploration work.

In February, Exxon Mobil and Qatar Petroleum discovered a vast reserve of natural gas off the coast of Cyprus, estimated at five to eight trillion cubic feet.

Italian ENI and French Total are likewise involved in oil and gas exploration activities off Cyprus.

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