NEW YORK (Reuters) - Cyprus expects initial natural gas production from the Aphrodite field will begin between 2024 and 2025, Cyprus’ Minister of Energy Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said on Friday, after negotiations with operators and an ownership squabble delayed output.
Cyprus’ Aphrodite was first discovered in 2011, but production has been delayed since as stakeholders Noble Energy, Israel’s Delek Drilling and Royal Dutch Shell renegotiate a production-sharing agreement with the government.
There have been a flurry of successful exploration efforts in recent years that identified natural gas plays in the eastern Mediterranean, where gas output has begun to soar.
Eastern Mediterranean countries including Cyprus, Israel, Egypt and Italy have formed a partnership to deliver more natural gas to Europe and transform the region into a major energy hub.
Lakkotrypis said he will meet with Aphrodite’s stakeholders next week to discuss the revenue sharing mechanisms between the government and the companies, infrastructure plans and the price at which companies will sell the gas.
“We are now in discussions with the Aphrodite partners about what the optimal way to develop the Aphrodite field is, and it involves commercial terms as well,” Lakkotrypis said in an interview in New York. He said he was confident those discussions will conclude in a few weeks.
He said they will likely transport the gas from the Aphrodite field via pipeline to Egypt, where it will be liquefied and exported.
The field is estimated to produce about 800 million cubic feet per day in the first production phase, according to Delek.
Tensions have risen in the region in recent months as Northern Cyprus, the Turkish Cypriot side of the island, and Greek Cypriots are in a dispute over natural gas drilling revenues.
Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan and the Palestinians recently formed the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum in an effort to create a regional gas market, cut infrastructure costs and offer competitive prices.
“Cyprus is positioning itself to become a hub ... and the natural market is the European Union (EU)” Lakkotrypis said.
In February, ExxonMobil Corp discovered a gas reservoir off the Cyprus coast with an estimated 5 trillion to 8 trillion cubic feet in gas resources (tcf), similar in size to the Aphrodite and Calypso gas finds also in Cypriot waters.
Exxon’s discovery is unlikely to come online until the late 2030s due to inadequate liquefaction capacity, Rystad Energy said in March.
Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis