The Aphrodite natural gas field was discovered last year in deep waters just of the southwest coast of Cyprus, about 20 miles west of the Leviathan field discovered in Israeli waters the year before. An initial study of the area by Noble Energy suggests that it may contain five to eight trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
The Cypriot government is in the process of negotiating deals with 15 oil and gas companies to start exploring for and extracting natural gas from the field; with the first four contracts expected to be signed at the beginning of next year.
However there are worries about the reaction of Turkey, who has never recognised the Republic of Cyprus since the island was split into two in 1974.
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Hubert Faustmann, an associate professor at the University of Nicosia, explained that, “Turkey says it will not tolerate exploration and Cyprus says it will proceed. Neither side has blinked and they’re playing for great stakes.”
The problem is that the Republic of Cyprus has taken it upon itself to negotiate exploration and production contracts on its own, rather than include the Turkish Cypriots or the Turkish government. Mithat Rende, a senior Turkish foreign ministry official, said that this has lead his government to threaten a forceful response if the Turkish Cypriots are not granted “inherent and equal rights” to all hydrocarbon finds in the area.
Turkey has even told major energy companies around the world that any who wish to sign exploration deals with Nicosia will lose access to the giant Turkish market.
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
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