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Politics

Cyprus’ Plan to Develop Aphrodite Gas Field Jars Irked Israel

Plans to be part of a regional grouping of countries to develop energy in the Mediterranean have soured over Cyprus’ intent to go ahead with its Aphrodite field on waters touching Israel’s maritime boundaries.

Cyprus and the California-based Chevron said they were going ahead despite a decade-long dispute between Cyprus and Israel over developing energy in the seas area, said Kathimerini.

Cypriot Energy Minister Natasa Pilides and a Chevron official met with House Speaker Annita Demetriou, who was briefed on development works for Aphrodite, a reservoir some 100 miles south of Limassol that stretches into Israel’s adjacent Yishai field, the paper said.

Cyprus licensed exploitation rights for the Aphrodite field in November 2019, but Israel’s Energy Ministry warned against proceeding with the gas development “until a settlement agreement is reached” between the two countries.

Cyprus has essentially ignored that and Pilides in 2021 said that she and her Israeli counterpart at the time, Yuval Steinitz, had agreed upon a framework for the companies involved to resolve pending issues on regulating rights on the Aphrodite and Yishai reservoirs.

But this year current Israeli Energy Minister Karine Elharrar took a different approach and told companies in Cyprus to settle the dispute and warning of consequences otherwise.

After Pilides told the Bloomberg news agency that “a realistic date for production” would be included in a Chevron presentation before year’s end,  Israeli media said Elharrar wasn’t happy about it.

The Cypriot website Reporter, which picked up a story published by the Jewish newspaper Haaretz’s economy newsletter The Marker, anonymous government sources said Israeli officials were annoyed by Chevron and Cyprus’ announcement.

The publication cited ongoing discussions between Pilides and Elharrar, indicating negotiations based on a recently agreed framework had not been completed but no further details were given.

Chevron, which bought stakes in Aphrodite stakes from Noble Energy, said it was acting in coordination with the Cypriot government and the firm’s legal obligation to proceed.

It’s expected to present its development plan for Aphrodite, located in Block 12 of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ,) by year’s end, with date of production set in 2027 although Turkey, which doesn’t recognize parts of the Cyprus’ sea boundaries, has been exploring for energy as well.

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