NICOSIA – Cyprus could have natural gas from Israel in early 2015, if discussions on the supply of small quantities are completed by the end of the year, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister, Neoklis Sylikiotis said today.

Speaking to journalists about a visit to Israel by a high ranking Cypriot delegation, he said Israel is positivie in supplying Cyprus a small quantity of natural gas for electricity production, which ranges between 0.5-0.7 billion cubic metres.

The purpose of the visit was to discuss the technology and import methods, he explained, adding that Israel natural gas will be imported in the form of liquefied natural gas.

“The aim is to have natural gas the soonest possible”, he said adding that “if all these discussions are completed by the end of the year, then we can have natural gas in early 2015 at lower prices for 3-5 years”.

Replying to a question, he said natural gas will be bought through the Electricity Authority of Cyprus, via an interstate agreement or through an EAC agreement with the Israel Electric Company. However, it is too early to talk about prices since the cost of trasporting it must be considered, he concluded.

Cyprus has signed an agreement to delineate its Exclusive Economic Zone with Egypt and Israel with a view to exploit any possible natural gas and oil reserves in its EEZ. A similar agreement has been signed with Lebanon but the Lebanese Parliament has not yet ratified it.

The first licensing round, which concluded in 2007, resulted in granting concessions to Houston – based “Noble Energy” for exploratory drilling in Cyprus’ EEZ block 12. Noble started drilling in September 2011 and the initial data that emerged from the exploratory drilling and the evaluation checks carried out, indicate the existence of a natural gas reservoir ranging from 5 to 8 trillion cubic feet (tcf) with a gross mean of 7 tcf.

A second licensing round for companies interested to receive concessions for exploratory drillings in Cyprus EEZ was concluded last May, resulting to bids by fifteen companies and joint ventures. Bids are being currently evaluated by the government.