Gas discovery cements ties between Greek Cyprus, Israel
Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades lays a wreath during a ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. Anastasiades said his country is the most reliable neighbor of Israel. REUTERS photo
Greek Cyprus and Israel cemented ties with the latest visit of President Nicos Anastasiades to Jerusalem.
Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said May 7 his country was the most reliable neighbor of Israel and the discovery of hydrocarbons in the Mediterranean Sea created new prospects for relations between the two countries.
“We are inaugurating a new era in relations between our two countries,” Anastasiades said during a working lunch hosted by Israeli President Simon Peres in Jerusalem.
“The two countries are committed to collaborating - we have historic ties and a common culture, but also a common blessing that are the hydrocarbons.”
Turkey finds unacceptable a loan method for debt-hit Greek Cyprus providing natural resources in the Eastern Mediterranean as a guarantee.
Turkish officials say the resources around the island belong to all the people living on the island, within the framework of international law.
Israel has discovered at least 24 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in two marine blocks. Greek Cyprus is in the process of confirming the discovery of about 7.5 trillion cubic feet of gas in a block adjoining one of Israel’s gas fields. Further exploratory drillings are expected soon by an Italian ENI and South Korean Kogas consortium and by French company Total.
‘Without Cyprus, Israel is far away from Europe’
For his part, Peres said the two countries were linked in many ways. “Without Cyprus, Israel is far away from Europe. We regard Cyprus as a close friend, both politically and geographically,” he said.
Anastasiades said Greek Cyprus’ decision to press forward with plans to build an onshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant on the divided island, located “opposite the Suez Canal,” affords interested parties the opportunity to make use of this infrastructure to export gas to the Far East and to Europe.
Greek Cyprus proposes that the two countries pool their natural gas reserves with a view to exporting the fuel via a mooted LNG facility on the island.
The Greek Cypriot energy minister said that only by combining their forces would Israel and Greek Cyprus be able to make a significant dent in the global natural gas economy. “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 might be too hard for each country to achieve individually,” said Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis.
Greek Cyprus also intends to conclude agreements with Tel Aviv on energy security and a unitization deal, paving the way for exploitation of cross-border natural gas and oil reserves.