Israeli energy firm Delek Group is set to increase its stake in the Aphrodite gas field located off the southern coast of Cyprus by 19.9 percent, which will make it a 49.9 percent stakeholder in the reserves.
Announcing plans to buy into Texas-based Noble Energy’s current 70 percent stake for around $155 million, the Delek said talks are still in their early stages and regulatory approvals are needed to proceed with the deal.
Along with its subsidiary Avner Oil Exploration, Delek Group presently owns a 30 percent stake in the 4.54 trillion cubic feet gas reservoir.
Earlier this year, the Greek Cypriot administration and Egypt signed a Memorandum of Understanding to outline the technical details of an undersea pipeline in order to supply the BG Group-operated network in Egypt’s Idku or Damietta with gas imports by early 2018 from the Aphrodite gas field, which is located in Block 12 of the island’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
The agreement, which was signed between Cyprus CHC Company and the Egyptian Gas Holding Company (EGAS), will also include other companies involved in gas transport and processing, with a deal expected to be reached in six months.
The Aphrodite offshore gas field was discovered late 2011 with some estimates predicting a capacity of 9 trillion cubic feet before this figure was later revised down.
The discovery of the reserves raised hopes in Europe of an alternative gas source, as the continent continues its efforts to diversify its supply away from Russian gas.
Feasibility studies for a 1,200 km-long underwater pipeline from Cyprus to Greece are ongoing, but a number of experts have dismissed the idea due to the 2,000m depths of the sea along the proposed route as well as the high seismic activity in the region.
Plans for a possible Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plant have been put on hold as the amount of gas found so far does not economically justify its construction.
Greek Cypriot Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis told the Turkish daily Milliyet in a report published on Monday that natural gas could go to the European market through Turkey if there is a solution to the island’s 40-year dispute with the Turkish Cypriots.