‘Cooperation essential for developing joint gas reserves’

Cooperation is essential for the exploitation and development of joint gas reserves, Israeli Ambassador Shmuel (Sammy) Revel told the Cyprus News Agency in an interview, adding that the two countries have a transparent and productive dialogue over block 12 reserves.

The Ambassador said he expects progress to be made on the EastMed pipeline at tomorrow’s Cyprus-Greece-Israel summit in Nicosia and reiterated his country’s respect for Cyprus’ rights in its maritime zones.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be accompanied by several ministers and high-level officials during the Trilateral Summit. Topics on the agenda include energy, trade and investments, telecommunications and the prevention of the maritime pollution. A number of bilateral and trilateral agreements are expected to be signed, enhancing ongoing cooperation in specific areas.

The two countries don’t see eye to eye on the issue of potential cross-border quantities when it comes to Aphrodite, the gas filed that lies in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone block 12 bordering Israel’s zone. The Israeli company that has rights to the neighbouring Yishai field believes the exploitation of Aphrodite will also take away gas belonging to Israel. Energy Minister George Lakkotrypis stated recently that Cyprus and Israel have agreed to proceed to arbitration, if no settlement is reached between the companies claiming rights to Aphrodite.

“We have a very transparent and productive dialogue with the government of Cyprus and I am convinced that this will lead to positive results,” Ambassador Revel said.

“We believe that cooperation is essential for the exploitation and development of our joint gas reserves,” he added.

Asked about other energy projects, Revel highlighted the EastMed pipeline, aiming to link resources in the Levantine basin with Europe. “Our countries are promoting the EastMed pipeline, taking into consideration both the economic and technical aspects of this ambitious project. The Ministers of Energy will participate in the coming Trilateral Summit and we hope to see progress on this issue soon,” he said.

Ongoing dialogue between Israel, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, other countries and the EU, aims to find the best solutions for natural gas exports, within the region and towards Europe.

Asked to comment on Turkey’s actions in Cyprus’ EEZ, the ambassador said: “We respect the rights of Cyprus in its various maritime zones. The signing of the bilateral agreement between Israel and Cyprus back in 2010, on the delimitation of the EEZ, speaks for itself”.

In February, Turkish warships blocked twice a vessel bound for drilling activities in block 3, which had been commissioned by the Italian energy company ENI. Last month, ENI CEO Claudio Descalzi said the company would not give up on its rights in block 3 and would repeat its efforts.

Asked to define the relationship between Israel and Cyprus, the Ambassador said that during the past few years, Israel and Cyprus have developed a strong strategic partnership. “We aim to further widen and deepen our partnership for the benefit of our people and for the security, stability and prosperity of the region” he said.

“As we are facing common challenges in the region, due to rising extremism and terrorism, we must work closely together to set up a framework which will provide security, safety and prosperity. The focus of the coming Summit is to build stronger bridges between the people and to take our longstanding partnership to a new level,” he concluded.

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