An ownership squabble over Cyprus’s main natural gas field is threatening to delay multi-billion-dollar plans to turn the Eastern Mediterranean into a major energy hub.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz are flying to Cyprus on Tuesday to spur plans to join the two countries’ electricity grids and construct a pipeline to link newly found gas fields to mainland Europe.
Standing in the way, however, is a dispute over Aphrodite, a gas field discovered in 2011 at the edge of Cyprus’s economic waters.
One tip of it stretches across the border into Israel’s maritime zone.
At stake is 7-10 billion cubic meters of gas worth close to $1.5 billion, according to one recent estimate in Israel.
That is less than 10 percent of Aphrodite’s total reserves and a fraction of the gas already discovered in Israel.
Israel says it will not give up on the gas and the companies operating on the Israeli side are ready for legal action in case Aphrodite is developed without them.