Cyprus and Israel have reached an agreement on the guidelines on the basis of which the companies operating in the Aphrodite and Yishai gas fields will be able to start negotiations for their commercial exploitation. This was announced on Tuesday in Cyprus by Ministers of Energy of Cyprus and Israel Natasa Pilides and Yuval Steinitz.
In her statements, the Cypriot Minister thanked her Israeli counterpart and his team for the very constructive discussions they held in the last 24 hours, saying that in a very short period of time they have managed to make significant progress on all bilateral issues but especially the discussions on Yishai and the issue of the Aphrodite gas field, an issue that affects the EEZs of both countries.
She added that they have agreed on a framework according to which the companies involved in this project will have some specific guidelines regarding the discussions they will have to resolve the issue between within a period of time.
Pilides noted that after the proposed settlement that will be agreed between the companies the two states will give, after studying the matter, the final approval. She said that this framework will be sent to the companies through a joint letter which is being prepared. Both countries, she said, are very satisfied that they have reached this point after nine years of discussions.
Yuval Steinitz said that it was a very successful one- day visit and referred to the historic as he called it, agreement signed yesterday on the electricity interconnector. He added that they also managed to make a significant progress, “I can say even a breakthrough” on the Aphrodite-Yishai issue.
He said that “finally, after years of endless and fruitless talks and negotiations we think we made a significant progress maybe even a breakthrough”. He explained that the general idea is that the two governments will enable the companies involved on both sides of the demarcation line between the Exclusive Economic Zones of Cyprus and Israel to sit together for the next half a year and to try to find commercial arrangements between them that will be later on submitted to the two governments to approve.
“We think that there is a fair chance that commercial companies might find some regiment among themselves and then it will be easier for the governments to consider and to approve,” he pointed out.
Noting that they still have to finalise some details in the documents he expressed hope that in a very short time they will be able to invite the companies of both sides to sit together with the permission and approval of the Israeli and Cypriot governments.
He expressed satisfaction with the developments, saying that “suddenly we see the light at the end of the tunnel, and there is a fair chance, nothing is certain, but there is a good chance that this might lead us to a solution of this little but significant obstacle in the wonderful relations and cooperation between Cyprus and Israel on energy and on many other issues”.
He also said that together with his Cypriot counterpart they will be leaving for Egypt to participate in the first meeting of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum as a regional organisation, where “many interesting and important things will be on the agenda.”
The Israeli Minister said that there may be some additional members of the forum after today`s meeting.
He thanked the Cypriot Minister for her efforts to move forward on the issue and also thanked President Nicos Anastasiades for the interesting conversation they had.
The Israeli official also said that it is very symbolic that his first visit abroad since the pandemic is to Cyprus calling it “another token of the very close relations between our two countries.”