NICOSIA, Cyprus – Israeli energy firm Delek Group is seeking to work with Cyprus on natural gas, the Cypriot commerce minister said on Monday, as the island mulls bids for the supply of liquefied natural gas and plans to search for gas deposits off its shores.
Antonis Paschalides said that Delek has expressed interest for cooperation on natural gas, but didn’t elaborate or disclose any details.
Cyprus is dependent on oil imports for energy generation and has opted to diversify with natural gas.
Paschalides said earlier this month that Royal Dutch Shell PLC has made the best liquefied natural gas supply offer of $5.9 billion over a 20-year period.
The Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) is negotiating with bidders separately for a regasification and storage terminal.
But negotiations have been complicated by word of significant gas deposits beneath the east Mediterranean seabed between Cyprus and Israel — including possible deposits inside the island’s own 17,000-square-mile exploration area off its southern coastline.
Cyprus’ Energy Service Director Solon Kassinis said the island will press ahead in the second half of this year with a second licensing round for gas exploration round in the zone.
Cyprus has previously licensed Texas-based Noble Energy Inc. to explore an 800,000-acre area bordering Israeli waters where massive gas fields have been found, including one estimated to hold up to 16 trillion cubic feet of gas.
Kassinis said Noble has to begin drilling inside its Cypriot block between Oct. 2011 and Oct.2013.
Delek is part of a consortium led by Noble that is exploiting Israel’s offshore natural gas finds. Leviathan, along with the Tamar field and its 8.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas could turn Israel into a major gas producer.