Cyprus and Egypt agreed on Tuesday to accelerate talks on the potential export of Cypriot gas to Egypt, once the resources come on line.
Cyprus discovered natural gas offshore in late 2011, while once gas-rich Egypt has turned into a net importer from an exporter in recent years.
“Egypt has a very huge (natural gas) infrastructure and can accommodate the production coming from the Cyprus economic waters,” Egyptian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Sherif Ismail told reporters in the Cypriot capital Nicosia.
“It will be very fruitful for both countries to work together to materialize this cooperation in terms of developing the resources in Cyprus and exporting it.”
In a joint statement, Ismail and his Cypriot counterpart Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said they had agreed to expedite discussions regarding natural gas exports to Egypt.
“In the next two months we will have a technical study regarding the options of these exports,” Lakkotrypis said, adding the best option for exports at present appeared to be via a pipeline.
The pipeline could be direct to Egypt, Ismail said. “We can accommodate whatever gas we receive in both local market consumption and also LNG exports.”
U.S. energy company Noble Energy with Israeli partners Delek and Avner hold an exploration concession to one Cypriot offshore field with proven reserves, while Italy’s ENI and France’s Total have concessions in other areas south of Cyprus.
The Cypriot gas fields are close to major finds reported by Israel in the past decade.
Turkey, with which Cyprus has been at loggerheads for decades, disputes the right of the island to explore for gas. Cyprus was split in a Turkish invasion in 1974 after a brief Greek inspired coup, and exploration work has been mandated by the island’s internationally recognised government.
A breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in north Cyprus is only recognised by Ankara.