NICOSIA – Hoping to avoid a deadlock, Cypriot authorities have agreed to keep talking with the American energy giant Chevron after blocking the company’s plan to develop the Aphrodite offshore gas field exploration.
“It is not a new negotiating round, it’s an extension, because there is progress in the conversation,” Energy Minister George Papanastasiou told Reuters, confirming a report in the authoritative Middle East Economic Survey (MEES) journal that talks would be extended to Nov. 5.
To avoid “working against the clock” in the negotiation, he said that, “It was a mutual extension, the contract allowed any extra extension so this is what we did … we believe we will arrive to an agreement,” the report said.
The Greek-Cypriot government that is dealing with Turkey drilling for oil and gas in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) earlier disagreed with modifications proposed by Chevron and its partners to modify a 2019 agreement to develop the estimated 3.5 trillion cubic foot gas field.
The biggest stumbling block was a proposal to remove what Cyprus considers essential processing infrastructure on the sea surface, the changes removing a floating gas processing plant deemed critical to the government.
The number of production wells would also have been cut from five to three, another problem for the government which is keen on developing what could be particularly lucrative areas in the seas.
Chevron is a partner in the field with Israel’s NewMed and the American energy company Shell, Cyprus having licensed foreign companies to do the work over the objections of Turkish-Cypriots on the occupied side.
The United States is backing Chevron’s plans, which it believes will help get gas to the market faster and does not involve building large infrastructure, Reuters reported earlier, putting it at loggerheads with Cyprus.
The overall objective, which remains unchanged, is to connect Aphrodite via a subsea pipeline to Egypt, where the gas can be sold in the domestic market or liquefied and shipped to Europe, largely cut off from Russian supplies after the invasion of Ukraine, the European Union seeking alternatives.