Photo Credit: Moshe Shai/Flash90
Workers seen at the Tamar gas field off the northern coast of Israel.

Israeli energy conglomerate Delek Group and its subsidiary NewMed Energy “surprised” Israel’s Energy Ministry with an announcement to develop the disputed Aphrodite offshore gas field off the Cypriot coast, Globes reported on Tuesday.

NewMed Energy, once known as Delek Drilling, said it will work with the Cypriot government “to update the development and production plan for the field,” according to the report.

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The plans include signing a contract with a drilling ship for conducting drills in the naval zone.

“The problem is that for the past decade, there has been a dispute between Israel and Cyprus on a small part of the Aphrodite offshore field extending into Israeli economic waters,” said the report.

The mapping out of the boundaries of a gas reservoir some 170 kilometers (105 miles) off the coast of Haifa known as the Ishay Reservoir, considered by Israel to be in exclusive economic waters, and the Aphrodite field in Cyprus’s exclusive economic waters has yet to be resolved.

In February, Israeli National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources Minister Karine Elharrar resumed diplomatic talks with Cyprus over the issue.

Elharar informed companies who are partners in the Aphrodite Cypriot field (NewMed Energy and Chevron) and companies who are partners in the Ishay field (Israel Opportunity, Nammax Oil and Gas, Petroleum Services Holdings and Eden Energy) that she was giving them “just one more month to reach agreement on a compensation payment to the Israeli partners in the prospect form them to forego their full rights on the field and its assets,” according to the report.

Nevertheless, the talks failed, and the dispute returned to government-to-government negotiations between Jerusalem and Nicosia—talks that include examining the option of unifying the field and treating it as a shared zone.

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