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Minister: Chevron 'positive' about Israeli-Cypriot plans for natural gas pipeline, processing plant

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Oil and gas company Chevron is “positive” about an Israeli-Cypriot plan for a pipeline that would convey offshore natural gas from both countries to Cyprus where it would be liquefied for export by ship to Europe and elsewhere, an official said Friday.

Cypriot Energy Minister Giorgos Papanastasiou said after talks with visiting Chevron Vice President for Exploration and Production Frank Cassulo that the company also wants to hear the views of other energy firms attending a gathering next week where the Cypriot government will formally pitch the plan in order to secure investor backing.

Chevron has presented the Cypriot government with a plan to develop its Aphrodite deposit in waters south of the island, first discovered in 2011 and estimated to contain 4.2 trillion cubic feet of the hydrocarbon.

Papanastasiou also pointed to recent statements by a senior ExxonMobil executive who said the oil and gas company is interested in Israeli-Cypriot plans. ExxonMobil holds exploration licenses for two of Cyprus’ 13 areas — or blocks — that make up its exclusive economic zone. The company has already discovered one sizeable gas deposit and prospects for more discoveries look “promising.”

Papanastasiou told The Associated Press last week that at least two major oil and gas companies — apart from Chevron — have expressed interest in the the plan that aims to spur additional prospecting, expedite the deposits’ development and ensure adequate gas quantities for Cyprus to wean itself off imported oil and slash energy generation costs.

France’s Total and Italy’s Eni are also partners in a consortium holding exploration licenses for seven blocks.

Next week’s workshop will bring together all companies involved in hydrocarbon exploration off Cyprus, as well as pipeline and liquefaction plant manufacturers, investors and other high-tech firms, including Israeli companies.

The pipeline-liquefaction plant project’s key drawing card is its low cost relative to other exporting methods, enabling companies to recover their initial investment and turn a profit much quicker.

The roughly 320-kilometer (200-mile) pipeline is estimated at 450 million euros ($489 million) and the liquefaction plant at 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion).