Turkey and Israel about to change the Cyprus gas game?

March 26, 2013
Turkey and Israel about to change the Cyprus gas game?(CM).By Stefanos Evripidou (other) Apart from removing Turkish objections to Israeli participation in NATO exercises, the prospect of reconciliation has also “removed a big obstacle to collaboration over the development of strategic energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean”, reported the Financial Times (FT) yesterday.

The London-based paper noted that improved ties between Turkey and Israel could also affect Cyprus should greater energy cooperation result in Nicosia getting sidelined. A Turkish official told FT that reconciliation also made a possible gas pipeline from Israel to Turkey a “much more viable” idea.

The latest opinion of an advisory committee of the Israeli government is that if gas should be exported, it will have to go through Israel first. A Cypriot diplomatic source told the Cyprus Mail that reports suggest Turkey is seriously considering a pipeline between Israel and Ceyhan. “This could very well be a game-changer. There is much more (to the apology) than meets the eye,” he said.

Matthew Bryza, a former US ambassador to Azerbaijan, was quoted by FT saying that without Israel to provide economies of scale, “in the short term the Cypriots lose their ability to do a pipeline or an LNG (liquefied natural gas) option”, adding that in the longer run a Cypriot pipeline to Turkey would make most commercial sense.

According to FT, Noble Energy and Delek Energy, who are the main investors in Israel’s large offshore natural gas fields- as well as partners in Cyprus’ Block 12- have in recent weeks “sounded out possible customers in energy-hungry Turkey”. The paper noted that until now, the private sector was eager to proceed with a possible pipeline between Israel and Turkey but that the political rift between the two governments did not allow progress to be made. (MORE)