Greece, Cyprus, Israel to talk gas

A meeting between officials of Greece, Cyprus and Israel is being lined up for September so the three countries can agree on transporting natural gas from the Southeastern Mediterranean to the European market.

Cypriot Commerce Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis said on Tuesday that efforts are being made to arrange the talks. Kathimerini understands the issue was raised during last week?s visit to Greece by Israeli President Shimon Peres. Greek officials left Peres in doubt that Athens is willing to cooperate in the project.

The three options open to the potential partners are to build a liquefying plant on Cyprus so the fuel can be shipped to the rest of Europe, constructing an underwater pipeline connecting the three countries or converting the gas into electrical power on Cyprus and then transferring the energy to Greece via an underwater cable.

According to reports, Sylikiotis?s ministry submitted plans to the European Commission last month for a pipeline that would link Cypriot and Israeli gas fields with the Greek natural gas network.

An estimated 7 trillion cubic feet of gas lies in Block 12 of Cyprus?s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Noble Energy and Delek Group are among the companies bidding for offshore exploration licenses in Cyprus. These two companies, along with other explorers, have discovered a reported 26 trillion cubic feet of gas in the Leviathan and Tamar fields under the Mediterranean Sea, worth some 200 billion euros at today?s prices and enough to supply Israel?s needs for 150 years.

Israel wants to export some of this gas and is reportedly examining plans to ship liquefied natural gas, or LNG, as far as Asia after 2018. But some government officials believe that most should be kept to cover the country?s own energy needs.