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Egyptian field raises expectations and concerns

01/09/2015 10:09
The discovery of a giant natural gas field off the Egyptian coast which, based on the first geophysical data, is estimated to contain up to 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, raises expectations but also concerns in Nicosia.

The Egyptian deposit, which was discovered by the Italian company ENI, is located about 6.5 km from the starting line of the Cypriot EEZ, near the undersea area Eratosthenes, where Cypriot fields 9, 10 and 11 are located

The fact that the gas field in the Egyptian EEZ is adjacent to a respective exclusive economic zone of Cyprus, creates great expectations for Cyprus, Energy Minister George Lakkotrypis told StockWatch.

He thinks that potential companies involved in the energy research program within the Cypriot EEZ will rekindle their interest for the affected fields, 9, 10 and 11 if we consider that Total has recently abandoned the two neighboring Cypriot plots to the Egyptian.

The Energy Minister however, admits that at the same time, the discovery of the giant Egyptian field complicates things, in his expression, as the neighboring country would be one of the main buyers of gas reserves from the Cypriot Aphrodite plot.

Based on the announcement of ENI, the deposit discovered can be one of the largest in the world and help meet Egypt's gas needs for decades.

Last March, Cyprus and Egypt signed a Memorandum of Understanding which was signed by the Cyprus hydrocarbons company (CHC) and the Egyptian natural gas company (Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company - EGAS).

The memorandum includes, inter alia, cooperation between the two countries for the development and exploitation of Aphrodite gas field in Block 12 of the Cypriot EEZ by leveraging existing gas infrastructures in Egypt for mutual benefit.

The energy minister, says that the Republic of Cyprus, did not intend, under this agreement to sell natural gas only to Egypt, as it is in ongoing negotiations with another 10 buyers of the private sector in Egypt.

"So our plans are not overturned even though now Egypt seems to be self-sufficient in natural gas for the coming decades, based on the discovery," said the Minister and added:

"We should take into account the benefits arising for Cyprus in geopolitical and trading terms and these are the issues which I am going to discuss among other things, with my Egyptian counterpart when we meet. Within the next days we will determine the exact date of our meeting".

Mr. Lakkotrypis assured that "cooperation on energy issues will continue with Egypt” and added that the tripartite cooperation of Nicosia, Athens and Cairo is not affected at all.

Meeting at the Presidential Palace

Yesterday there was a broad meeting at the presidential palace with the participation of all actors in the energy sector, at which the energy minister George Lakkotrypis informed in detail about the situation created for the exploitation of gas from the field 12, in conjunction with the discovery of the giant Egyptian deposit.

According to information, the consequences of this new development, positive and negative, were preliminarily tested with the Cypriot government assessing that the impact on the energy program of Cyprus, will be positive rather than negative.

Nicosia will await the official results of the geophysical data for the Egyptian field and the upcoming meeting of the minister of energy with his Egyptian counterpart.

The presidency notes that yesterday's meeting at the Presidential Palace for energy issues was a prearranged and not an extraordinary one because of the discovery of the Egyptian gas deposits.

Government spokesman Nikos Christodoulides said yesterday that the government is evaluating the situation and, when there are safe predictions, he will make official statements.