The prospect of extensive oil and gas deposits in Mediterranean waters has prompted a trilateral cooperation between Egypt, Syria and Cyprus, to build a gas pipeline and join efforts in tapping lucrative energy reserves.
"It is agreed that Cyprus, Egypt and Syria will move forward with a tripartite committee to pursue the important issue of building a gas pipeline," Cypriot Commerce and industry Minister Nicos Rolandis told AFP. The minister revealed that oil deposits were situated around 2,000 meters below the surface.
In January Cypriot newspapers reported that discussions were held with Egypt on the prospects of exploiting oil and gas reserves off the eastern Mediterranean island, in the area between Egypt, Syria, Cyprus, and Israel. The talks were prompted by natural gas prospecting off the Egyptian coast, less than 400 miles away.
Egyptian Electricity and Energy Minister Ali Al-Saidi visited Cyprus in late July, and the deal was announced this week, following Egypt's Petroleum Minister Sameh Fahmy’s brief visit to the island. Fahmy said Egypt would assist Cyprus’s search for oil by offering its expertise and experience in discovering energy reserves, AFP reported.
Rolandis said a joint technical committee will seek delineation of Cyprus’s continental shelf to prevent neighboring states from encroaching its seabed boundaries. Another joint committee will reportedly be set up to examine the supply of natural gas involving the three countries.
Rumors of potentially huge deposits around the Island have surfaced in the past and were met by government silence, reflecting concern that Britain, Turkey, Israel or Lebanon would be keen to reap the benefits of any discoveries.
Rolandis added that, expecting discoveries in the Mediterranean offshore, the Cypriot government has decided to replace crude oil used by the electricity authority with natural gas by 2006.
Cyprus and Egypt have recently signed a trade protocol to improve commercial relations and encourage investments. Bilateral trade currently stands at $70 million annually.— (Mena Report)
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