Energy Minister to travel to Israel for natural gas pipeline agreement

Cypriot Energy Minister George Papanastasiou said he is planning to visit Israel for a meeting with his Israeli counterpart in a bid to sign an agreement over the construction of a pipeline to transfer natural gas from the Israeli gas fields to Cyprus for liquefaction and export to Europe, as well as to discuss the pending issue between Aphrodite reservoir and the adjacent Yishai at the Israeli EEZ. Panastasiou's comments came in the wake of statements made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who said that he discussed with Cyprus President Nikos Christodoulides a project entailing 'the supply of Israeli gas to Europe via the pipeline from our gas field to a huge liquefaction facility that will be built in Cyprus.' Papanastasiou, who accompanied Christodoulides during his visit to Israel last week, said that deliberations are underway to return to Israel and discuss two issues, the Yishai-Aphrodite dispute and plans over a natural gas pipeline. Responding to a question, Papanastasiou said that Nicosia has submitted the pipeline proposal to Israel. 'The first stage is to sign an agreement facilitating the construction of the pipeline that would connect the two exclusive economic zones and we will start from there', the Cypriot Minister said, noting that the project entails the transport and liquefaction of Israeli natural gas in Cyprus and then its export to Europe via ships. 'There is high demand for liquified natural gas (LNG) and Europe is the continent that suffers the most,' he said noting that LNG markets could also turn to Asia as well. Asked over the timeframe for the project, Papanastasiou said that following the political decision and the expression of interest by private companies 'it would take two and a half years for liquefaction while the pipeline could be constructed in 18 months.' The new government's plans include the import of natural gas both from Cypriot gas fields and from the region for electricity generation in a bid to lower electricity bills, while the excess quantities could be liquified and exported to the EU. Papanastasiou said that this plan will be discussed in a workshop on May 29, organised by the Ministry in Cyprus with the participation of companies involved in the whole cycle of natural production and supply, in the presence of Cyprus President Nikos Christodoulides. 'These companies are involved in the whole natural production chain, from pipeline contractors to LNG plants as well as others who are interested in purchasing the LNG produced in Cyprus,' he said. Replying to a comment over the earlier plans to transfer natural gas from Cyprus to Egypt for liquefaction, the Cypriot Minister said that these plans remain on the table as an alternative for the companies operating in the Cypriot EEZ. Cyprus would like "not to be associated with only one alternative,' he added. Replying to a comment whether these plans affect the East Med project, Papanastasiou said that East Med remains as a 'virtual corridor.' Instead of a pipeline connecting Israel with Europe, this can be achieved via an LNG connecting Cyprus with Europe, he concluded.

Source: Cyprus News Agency