Greek Cyprus rushes new gas deal with international companies
Greek Cypriot administration has strike a deal with international companies on the distribution of revenues from natural gas exploitation from the Aphrodite field in the eastern Mediterranean, drawing fresh criticism from Turkey.
Greek Cyprus will earn an estimated $9.3 billion over 18 years under a renegotiated contract with Shell, U.S.-based Noble and Israel’s Delek, Greek Cypriot energy minister has said.
George Lakkotrypis said the renegotiated deal with the companies is expected to bring in $520 million per year as state revenue.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on June 7 vowed not to allow any fait accompli in the region.
“Our brothers in Northern Cyprus have also rights [in Eastern Mediterranean],”he told reporters in Istanbul on June 7 when asked about the deal.
“We are determined to protect their shares, we will not let those who have no links [to the region] claim those rights,” he added.
The deal also includes the transfer of natural gas by underwater pipeline to Egypt’s Idku liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal.
“We believe it is a good deal under the circumstances, it will allow the Republic of Cyprus to earn significant commercial revenues estimated at over $9 billion during 18 years of the well’s lifespan,” Lakkotrypis told reporters.
Lakkotrypis said under the new deal, the consortium was obliged to keep to a tight deadline to tap the gas reserves.
“Based on the development and production plan that we discussed, we expect the first gas to be extracted by 2024-25,” he said, whereas the consortium previously had no obligation to stick to a timeline.
Greek Cyprus has pushed ahead with exploring for offshore energy resources despite the collapse in 2017 of talks to end the island’s decades-long division.
Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, saying Turkish Cypriots also have rights to the resources in the area.
In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus’ annexation by Greece, Ankara intervened as a guarantor power. In 1983, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was founded.
The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the dispute, all ending in failure. The latest one, held with the participation of the guarantor countries, Turkey, Greece, and the U.K., ended in 2017 in Switzerland.
Turkish Foreign Ministry said on May 6 that the country’s drilling and seismic vessels exploration activities “will continue in the license areas in our continental shelf which our government has provided to TP in 2009 and 2012.”
“Likewise, Turkey will continue to protect the continental shelf rights of Turkish Cypriots as long as the Greek Cypriot side does not include its equal partner of the island in the decision-making process for hydrocarbon resources or unless it ends unilateral hydrocarbon activities,” it said in a statement.
The ministry noted that Turkey has clearly demonstrated its attitude toward the continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean since 2004.
The Turkish MFA recalled its position on the Exclusive Economic Zone agreements that Greek Cypriots have been sealing with regional countries, stressing those deals are not valid neither for Turkey nor for Turkish Cypriots.