On December 28, 2011, the American company Noble Energy Inc. officially announced the discovery of natural gas in the Cypriot plot 12, in the EEZ of Cyprus, after drilling in the area. According to the Noble announcement, the results from drilling, petrophysical formations and the initial assessment show estimated quantities ranging between 4 and 5 trillion cubic feet of gas.
Eleven years after the first drilling, the gas on plot 12 remains unexploited. In 2009 the same consortium led by American Noble Energy discovered the Tamar deposit off the coast of Israel. It is about twice the Aphrodite deposit. Within 4 years this deposit was exploited and today it covers the electricity needs of Israel. In addition, from the beginning of February 2022, consultations began between Israel and Lebanon, mediated by Turkey to Hezbollah, for the construction of a pipeline between the two countries, which may gradually reach the southeastern provinces of Turkey. The Israel agreement & # 8211; Lebanon for the disputed part of their EEZ, now allows Israel to build a pipeline to Turkey bypassing the Cypriot EEZ. Zeroing any geopolitical value of our country.
Israel & # 8211; Egypt
In 2010, Israel again with Noble discovered another huge deposit, the Leviathan, with reserves of around 20 trillion cubic feet of gas. In conjunction with the Aphrodite field, Noble attempted to exploit these 35 trillion cubic feet of natural gas by building an LNG terminal, and entered into a preliminary agreement with the Australian company Woodside Petroleum. Israel, which until then had been dependent on Egyptian gas, disagreed. It decided to meet the country's energy needs first by launching a direct exploitation of Tamar. severance of diplomatic relations between the two countries – for the development of cooperation including the sale of natural gas.
Egypt was the first country in the Eastern Mediterranean basin with its own natural gas. In 2015, however, the discovery of the ZOR deposit of 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas allows it, in addition to its own needs, to gradually become an exporter of natural gas. The discovery of Zor completely changed the game in the Eastern Mediterranean. Countries such as Israel and Cyprus were immediately forced to re-evaluate their strategies because Egypt no longer needed their gas. In less than 4 years, ZOR has developed and is currently supplying Egypt's two terminals and stepping up its electricity generation efforts to meet the needs of Egypt's 120 million inhabitants.
Many argue that Israel has delayed investment in gas. If this is the case for Israel in Cyprus, we should probably talk about criminal indifference. Eleven years after the discovery of Aphrodite and there are still no officially declared reserves. On the contrary, a dispute is pending with Israel for the unification of the deposit with the Israelis claiming 30% on the pretext that it falls within their own EEZ. Four years after the discovery of a similar deposit on plot 6 by the EMI, no confirmation drilling was carried out, we do not even know if the EMI will carry it out. This was followed by the 5 to 8 tcf (trillion cubic feet) gas field that Exxon located at the Glafkos target in block 10 of the Cyprus EEZ and just a month ago a second confirmatory drilling began, awaiting results in the coming weeks.
p>Potentially, Cyprus, through these three successful drillings, meaning that they will be confirmed, could declare as proven reserves of 15-20 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
In the initial plans of the Christofias government after 2011 was the construction of a terminal in Vasiliko. On the one hand, the cost of the terminal, on the other hand, Israel's decision to cover its own needs and not to give a geopolitical advantage to Cyprus led to the cancellation of the project. We spent the first years of Anastasiadis's government discussing the sale of Aphrodite's natural gas to Egypt, after Shell bought a stake in it. After the discovery of the ZOR deposit in 2015, Egypt made sense to buy it but at a humiliating price.
Then the leaders of Israel, Greece and Cyprus, specifically on December 5, 2017, agreed to support the 2,000-kilometer EastMed pipeline at a cost of $ 7.4 billion. Although the countries expressed their hope to sign a transnational agreement for the project, no company has supported it, due to its high cost, construction problems and mainly due to the fall in gas prices. The project proved to be a bubble that then served the political expediencies of Benjamin Netanyahu, Alexis Tsipras and Nikos Anastasiadis. All three leaders basically wanted to send a message to Ankara that it would be excluded from the Eastern Mediterranean gas.
Russia, which naturally wants to prevent the entry of new major gas sources into Europe and could reduce the price of natural gas that it has on the old continent.
Ankara pursued a policy of power politics during this period, transferring pressure mainly to Cyprus but also to Greece. In Cyprus, TRAO started a series of drillings in plots of land in the Cyprus EEZ, which were justified as drilling carried out according to & # 8217; command of the Turkish Cypriots. As far as Greece is concerned, Turkey signed an agreement to separate the EEZ with Libya, while Barbaros started investigations within the Greek continental shelf. Always in relation to Cyprus, Turkey proceeded to new pressures and successfully opened the enclosed city of Famagusta, channeling large numbers of immigrants and generally pressuring the Republic of Cyprus in terms of guarding the Green Line. Cyprus reacted by asking for sanctions from the EU and appealing to the UN without tangible results.
In short, since 2011 when Cyprus entered the gas map with the help of the EU and the US which sent giant companies to the region for its drilling program, nothing has been achieved. Its gas remains trapped in the Mediterranean, with the Anastastasiadis government building a terminal in Vassiliko not to bring our own gas but to buy it from third countries, without even the prospect of reducing energy costs for businesses and citizens of this country. At some point we will find out who is behind this investment.
There have been and still are significant opportunities for the exploitation of our deposits. In fact, with serious EU funding, which recently provided 650 million euros for the laying of the power line of Asia Interconnector. There was also a proposal several years ago from a Canadian company for free transportation of compressed gas from plot 12 in Cyprus. We ignored her.
Politicians in Cyprus, hiding behind a clumsy economic approach that Cyprus is a small country and it is not in our interest to bring our gas, looks at how to sell it to third countries but does not find buyers and mainly tries to instrumentalize it, believing that with it will force Turkey – which needs it – to make concessions on the Cyprus issue.
If we brought our natural gas to Cyprus, the prices of electricity in the medium term would fall significantly. Our industry would become much more competitive. We could sell natural gas to the Turkish Cypriots at very reasonable prices. A bi-communal gas exploitation commission could be set up to prevent Turkey from exploiting Turkish Cypriots. It would prevent what was done in Varosi and the drilling in our EEZ.
With a solution to the Cyprus problem, Cyprus could become the largest exporter of natural gas to Turkey. Israel would inevitably follow the initiative of Cyprus, just as the then US Vice President Joe Biden described it when talking about an energy arc in the East with a privileged US partner Cyprus. Today we are running behind Egypt and Israel, countries that evaluate – and it makes sense – first their own interests.
Instead of a huge gas project that in the next decade could bring Cyprus even more turnover and one trillion euros, the Anastasiadis government, invested in the non-solution of the Cyprus problem, supported the development of the country in a corrupt system of providing “golden visas” to fraudsters with a turnover of about 7 billion euros. As a result, he and a group of 100 businessmen became millionaires, but the rest of the Cypriots became poorer.