Israeli war criminal and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Cyprus and Israel are studying the possibility of a common pipeline that could help export natural gas to Europe and Asia.
Netanyahu, making the first visit to Cyprus by an Israeli prime minister, said today that he and President Demetris Christofias discussed a variety of ways that the two countries can work together in energy exploration, agriculture, tourism and science. Both leaders declined to speak publicly about proposals for military cooperation.
“We are looking at the possibility -- we haven’t taken a decision -- about a 40-kilometer pipeline between the two findings” off the coast of Israel and Cyprus, Netanyahu said at a press conference with Christofias at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia. He said gas could be liquefied in either Cyprus or Israel and exported to Europe or Asia.
The two countries have discovered quantities of offshore gas in the past two years estimated to be worth billions of dollars in exports. Turkey and Lebanon are demanding pieces of the natural gas bonanza that a group led by Houston, Texas-based Noble Energy Inc. discovered off the coasts. Israeli Energy Minister Uzi Landau, who accompanied Netanyahu to Cyprus, has said his nation is willing to use force to protect its gas field from outside claims.
Netanyahu also said today that sanctions imposed on Iran so far have not been effective. He said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s tour of centrifuges at a Tehran research reactor yesterday was proof that sanctions haven’t hurt Iran’s efforts to develop nuclear capabilities.
“If anyone needed a reminder that sanctions so far have not stopped Iran’s nuclear program, it was the guided tour by Iran’s president,” Netanyahu said. “I hope that sanctions work but so far they haven’t worked.”
Israeli leaders have treated relations with Cyprus carefully for years out of concern it could harm Israel’s military alliance with Turkey. The growing antipathy of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as well as the recent gas discoveries have led Netanyahu to cultivate ties with Cyprus, said Emanuel Gutmann, an emeritus professor of political science at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
“It really wasn’t important enough for us and there were good reasons not to offend Turkey,” Gutmann, who has studied Cyprus since the 1940s, said in a phone interview. “Now everything has changed.”
The visit comes as Turkey and Cyprus trade barbs over drilling rights. Cyprus on Feb. 13 started a tender for oil and gas licenses for 12 blocks in its exclusive economic zone.
Turkey says some of the areas are within Turkish territory and called the move “irresponsible and provocative.”
Turkey “will take all necessary measures to protect its rights and interests,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement last night.
Christofias condemned Turkey’s “provocative and aggressive stance.” He called on “the international community and especially the European Union to send a strong message to Turkey that it must stop violating and start respecting international law.”
Netanyahu’s trip follows the Cypriot leader’s visit to Israel in March and Israeli President Shimon Peres’s tour of Cyprus in November.
Cyprus has been split since 1974 when Turkey invaded the island in response to a coup by supporters of union with Greece. The European Union, which only recognizes the Greek Cypriot-run Republic of Cyprus, has called on Turkey to recognize Cyprus and help resolve the ethnic division on the island.
Noble Energy, which holds the license to explore and exploit gas in Block 12 of the island’s offshore territory, said on Dec. 28 that it discovered as much as 8 trillion cubic feet of gas off the island’s southern coast, Cyprus’s first discovery. Israel’s Leviathan field may hold as much as 20 trillion cubic feet of gas, Noble said in a Dec. 19 statement.
The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the Levant Basin, a triangular slice of the Mediterranean lying between Cyprus and Israel, may hold 122 trillion cubic feet of gas. Noble Energy discovered the Tamar field in 2009 and the Leviathan field in 2010, both off the coast of Israel.
Lebanon has asked the United Nations to adopt measures to prevent a conflict with Israel over energy exploration in areas that may fall within Lebanese territorial waters. Lebanon, which signed an agreement with Cyprus demarcating their respective offshore territories in January 2007, has failed so far to ratify it.
Lebanon’s Resistance group Hezbollah, which soundly defeated Israel in 2006, has repeatedly pledged to protect the country’s offshore resources. Erdogan sent fighter jets and frigates to escort a Turkish seismic research ship planning east Mediterranean exploration last year....
Israel and Zioconned Cyprus signed a military agreement Thursday, allowing the former to use the airspace and territorial waters around the eastern Mediterranean island to protect vital energy resources.
The search and rescue agreement, signed by war criminal and assassin Benjamin Netanyahu and Cypriot President Demetris Christofias, will allow the Israeli air force and navy to enter Cypriot space in the case of accidents or actions against oil rigs in their exclusive economic zones.
Netanyahu's visit to the nearby eastern Mediterranean island - the first ever by an Israeli leader - was likely to irk Israel's former ally Turkey, which has challenged Cyprus's jurisdiction over offshore gas and oil finds.
'Israel is looking for peaceful cooperation which will be for the benefit of the people of both countries and for the region,' Netanyahu told journalists in Nicosia, adding that both Israel and Cyprus were committed to expanding energy cooperation.
Ankara says the Greek Cypriots, who represent the internationally recognized government of Cyprus, have no jurisdiction to search for offshore oil and gas. It has said it will carry out its own exploration off northern Cyprus with the Turkish Cypriot authorities.
Gas production is set to increase in the eastern Mediterranean following the discovery of considerable quantities of offshore reserves that have sparked competing maritime claims involving Turkey, Cyprus, Israel and Lebanon.
Cyprus has accused neighboring Turkey of using bullying behavior over the recent gas finds, calling on the European Union to intervene. Ankara has said it will use all means necessary to stop oil and gas exploration in its exclusive economic zone.
Earlier this week, the Greek Cypriots launched a second licensing round for offshore exploratory drilling, hoping that potential fossil fuel deposit discoveries would boost the eurozone country's sagging economy.
U.S. company Noble Energy began exploratory drilling last year in Block 12, the most south-eastern section of the Cypriot economic zone that sits close to a huge Israeli gas field.
Cyprus was split into an internationally recognized Greek-speaking south and a breakaway Turkish-speaking north in 1974, when Turkey invaded the island in response to a short-lived coup by supporters of a union with Greece....
Netanyahu's visit, the historic first of an Israeli leader to the Republic of Cyprus, marked further evolution of the rapprochement between the two states, with cooperation in the agriculture, tourism and science sectors also on the agenda.
The Eastern Mediterranean Sea is considered to be a generally underexplored energy province. The Cypriot and Israeli strikes all fall within the perimeter of the greater Levant Basin, a triangular salient of the sea between the two countries that may hold, according to an estimate by the US Geological Survey, as much as 3.4 trillion cubic meters of natural gas and 1.7 million barrels of gas condensate.
The lead company in both the Cypriot and Israeli consortia that have made separate strikes is the same, the US-based Noble Energy.
The two countries "are looking at the possibility - we haven't taken a decision - about a 40-kilometer pipeline between the two findings" off their respective coasts, Netanyahu told a joint press conference with Cypriot President Demetris Christofias, as quoted by Bloomberg News. Netanyahu further indicated that the gas could be liquefied in either Cyprus or Israel and then exported either to Europe (through Cyprus) or to Asia (through Israel).
A two-month joint study has been launched to find the best ways to translate the intention to cooperate into a pragmatic plan for substantive economic cooperation. It will lead in the first instance to agreements on the demarcation, usage and exploitation of resources by each of the two sides.
Netanyahu, in reference to the possibility that such energy projects might in future be scaled up in size, said "a regional approach perhaps beginning with cooperation between Cyprus and Israel could extend to others if they chose to enter it". Agence France-Presse reported.
Netanyahu's visit follows by less than a month a business forum that brought entrepreneurs from Cyprus and Israel together in Tel Aviv to discuss their common interest in the latest developments in gas exploration developments. Representatives of the real estate and tourism sectors in Israel also attended.
In December 2011, Noble announced that it has found probably between 180 billion and 285 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas in Block 12 of Cyprus' exclusive economic zone (EEZ). This is reportedly to be enough to supply the island's domestic consumption for over two centuries.
Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is for geo-economic reasons likelier than pipelines to promote exports, but the Cypriot deposit is not quite big enough to make that worthwhile, so cooperation is possible involving nearby strikes in the Israeli EEZ in the Eastern Mediterranean. In particular, the Leviathan deposit there is estimated to hold 700 bcm of gas plus 4.2 billion barrels of oil.
The once-united Cyprus has been divided into a Greek Cypriot south and a Turkish Cypriot ever since 1974, when Turkish military landed on the island in response to the attempt by Greek Cypriot officers to unite Cyprus with the Greek mainland by overthrowing the country's president Archbishop Makarios, primate of the autocephalous Cypriot Orthodox Church and ethnarch of the Greek Cypriots.
Since then, the immigration of thousand of poor peasants from the Anatolian mainland has definitively altered the culture of the island's Turkish-speaking population in the north of the island and complicated the politics of reunification.
Cyprus is a member of the European Union, but the EU does not recognize the authority in the northern third of the island, which styles itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and is recognized only by Ankara. The EU officially recognizes the sovereignty of the government in Nicosia over the whole of the island although its law can be enforced only in the north.
Soon after the Greek Cypriot administration began exploratory drilling in September 2011, Turkey signed an oil and gas exploration agreement with the Turkish Cypriot administration and sent a seismic research ship into the area in preparation for drilling with a military escort.
Lebanon claims a huge piece of the action. While some Lebanese political figures made threatening statements against Israel over the resource development a few years ago, Lebanon officially and formally indicated in August 2010 that it considers some gas fields to be encroaching on Lebanon's EEZ, and has requested assistance from the UN on a formal delimitation of its maritime boundaries....
Greek-Israeli relations began to improve in the late 1990s, but their recent marked amelioration (as well as that of Cypriot-Israeli relations) is the natural result of Turkey's degradation under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of its own relations with Israel. Netanyahu and then-Greek prime minister George Papandreou exchanged visits in summer 2010. In late summer 2011, their two countries signed a mutual defense agreement in addition to an accord on oil and gas exploration in the waters around Cyprus.....
اما في المقابل فإن اطرافا لبنانية تبدو اقرب الى السذاجة والتهور في مقاربة الاحداث الحاصلة. فتعمد الى زج الساحة اللبنانية اكثر في هذا البركان المخيف بدل تحصين الساحة والعمل على حمايتها. وتبدو المجموعة المسيحية هي الاكثر عرضة للخطر رغم ان البعض «منشرح» في المساهمة في وضع المسيحيين في واجهة الاحداث، ولذلك لم يكن من باب الصدف ابدا ان يتبوأ ثلاثة موارنة منبر الخطباء في ذكرى 14 شباط انه الدخول في «عين العاصفة».