- bailout : BoC caught in the crossfire
- Opinions : Our View: CyBC should not expect the taxpayer to cover loss of...
- coercion : House was ‘coerced’ in Laiki rescue
- bailout : Troika team arrives to monitor developments
- AGM : BOC’s restructuring must be a priority, top businessmen say
- addes : Neophytou suggests removing CyBCs rights to sell ads
- Cyprus : Early ‘parliamentary’ elections in the north
- APOEL : Police gear up for cup final
- Cyprus : New parole board sworn in
- Cyprus : CyTA boss says outside interest in loan proposal
‘A new era of strategic partnership’
THE GOVERNMENT yesterday signed an agreement transferring 30 per cent of Noble Energy’s gas exploitation rights on offshore Block 12 to Avner Oil & Gas and Delek Drilling, the US firm’s Israeli partners.
Avner and Delek Drilling are the arms of the Delek Group, a supplier of fuel and one of Israel’s largest companies.
Noble’s request to transfer 30 per cent of its rights was approved by the Cabinet a week ago.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Commerce Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis said the deal opens up “a new era of strategic partnership between Cyprus and Israel” with both economic and political ramifications.
Attending the ceremony among others were Karen Enstrom, Regional Energy Officer to the US Embassy in Nicosia, Israeli ambassador Michael Harari, and Charalambos Ellinas and Solon Kassinis, executives of the state hydrocarbons company.
Noting that the consortium comprising Noble, Delek and Avner possesses the majority of shares in Israel’s Leviathan field, Sylikiotis said the participation of the Israeli companies in Cyprus’ block 12 opened up possibilities for “significant synergies.”
Economies of scale could also be achieved via the commercial exploitation of the natural gas discovered in Block 12 and the natural gas discovered in Leviathan, he added.
The minister spoke also of possible partnership in an LNG plant here for transporting natural gas to European and international markets.
The construction of such a terminal would yield benefits not only for Cyprus as a regional energy hub, but also for Israel and the broader region, said Sylikiotis.
“For the first time in the history of the south-eastern Mediterranean,” said Sylikiotis, “it is possible to turn our geographical position from a disadvantage to an advantage and to work together in order to form conditions of prosperity, peace and progress to the benefit of our peoples.”
Nicosia expects Noble to carry out follow-up drilling in Block 12 by October.
As a result of appraisal drilling the gas reserves - which currently are only estimates - would be proven and be assigned an economic value, paving the way for eventual monetisation.
“We shall continue together to appraise the discovery in block 12 and also to follow up with additional targets for exploratory work,” said John Tomich, Cyprus country manager for Noble.
For his part, Delek CEO Gideon Tadmor said everyone recognises that Cyprus “has a real potential of becoming an energy hub in this special place we live in.”
There is no doubt, he added, that “it is truly a joint venture not only between people working for commercial companies bringing success to shareholders but also between the governments of Cyprus and Israel working together for the benefit of the people of Cyprus and Israel and for the whole region.”
Tadmor expressed the hope that the “very significant” discovery of hydrocarbons in Block 12 would become “a very fruitful project and we will see how this project will cause other companies to join the effort of investing in oil and gas exploration offshore Cyprus.”
Cyprus signed its first hydrocarbon exploration contract with Noble Energy in 2008. In late 2011, the US company announced a discovery offshore Cyprus with estimated gross mean resources of seven trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
At the Eurasian Economic Summit held in Istanbul last month, Turkey's deputy minister for energy and natural resources Hasan Murat Mercan warned his Israeli counterpart that Israel's energy co-operation with Cyprus would stand in the way of any proposed Israel-Turkey natural gas pipeline.