Cyprus and Israel to seek arbitration for ‘Aphrodite’ if companies fail, Minister says

Cyprus and Israel have agreed recently to proceed to arbitration if no settlement is reached among the companies claiming rights from the Aphrodite gas field, Minister of Energy, George Lakkotrypis has told reporters.

It is noted that an Israeli company that has been given rights to Israeli field Yishai – neighboring the Aphrodite gas field in Cyprus maritime Exclusive Economic Zone – believes that the exploitation of Aphrodite will lead to pumping of gas that belongs to Israel as well. The Israeli Ministrys position is that the development of the gas field makes it necessary for the parties to agree on the rights of both countries.

The Energy Minister told reporters that we have recently agreed to ask companies first to try to reach a settlement between them as regards the quantities that may be in the Israeli area and if this is not possible then we will go to arbitration”.

He pointed out that this is a procedure used in many cases where there are differences, adding that this demonstrates the good relations between the two countries.

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Energy, Stelios Chimonas, who was accompanying the Minister, clarified that it is an appeal to an expert determination and not to a court.

The Minister explained that a consultation has been taking place for a long time now regarding a framework agreement that concerns both the unitization agreement in general and, in particular, the Aphrodite field, and whether it extends to the area under Israeli jurisdiction.

Adding that one of the disagreements has to do with the quantity that may be on the Israeli side, he recalled that when Israel concluded a drilling in the Yishai, the company had issued an announcement n the Tel-Aviv Stock Exchange, in which it referred to negligible quantities.

He said that the two countries discuss in good faith in order to reach a solution.

Meanwhile, in June – July the Cypriot side is expected to receive the reply of the European Commission regarding the interstate agreement for a natural gas pipeline to Egypt.

The Minister said that on Sunday he will be travelling to Egypt to discuss the issue further.

Asked how close is a trade deal for the exportation of natural gas from Aphrodite to Egypt, he said that we are in an advanced stage.

The Minister was also asked about Turkish threats that Ankara will proceed with drilling next to ENI companys block in Cyprus EEZ. Lakkotrypis stressed that the government proceeds with its energy plans, pointing out that threats do not contribute to the efforts for cooperation undertaken by the other countries in the region of the Eastern Mediterranean.

Source: Cyprus News Agency