Egypt to cooperate with Syria and Cyprus to build gas pipeline

Sep 26, 2001 02:00 AM

Egypt will cooperate with Syria and Cyprus to build a gas pipeline and will join efforts to tap lucrative oil deposits off the eastern Mediterranean island, a senior Cypriot official said. "It is agreed that Cyprus, Egypt and Syria will move forward with a tripartite committee to pursue the important issue of building a gas pipeline, " Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis told in Nicosia. "The Cyprus government has decided to replace crude oil used by the electricity authority with natural gas by 2006," he added.
The announcement was made after talks with Egypt's Petroleum Minister Sameh Fahmy during a brief visit to the island to discuss the exploitation of oil and gas reserves in the sea area between Cyprus and Egypt. After talks with Rolandis, Fahmy said his country would assist the search for oil by offering its expertise and experience in discovering energy reserves. "Cyprus has a lot to gain from this endeavour as Egypt," said Fahmy. "We decided to apply all our expertise to cooperate with Cyprus in the oil investment business."

Rolandis said a joint technical committee will decide in the next few months on the best way to mark out the continental shelf and delineate the exclusive economic zones of Cyprus and Egypt, as was agreed with Syria last month. "We will appoint a committee which will work towards defining the sea areas of the two countries based on the Law of the Sea (treaty) both countries signed in 1982," said Rolandis.
The commerce minister revealed that oil deposits were situated around 2,000 metres (6,000 feet) below the surface and that tapping those reserves was "technologically possible". Another joint committee will examine the supply of natural gas involving the three countries.
Building a gas pipeline to the island's southern coast from Syria is expected to cost in the region of 250 mm $, and will take a long time, said Rolandis. Although Syria has not signed the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention it is willing to apply its provisions to conclude a bilateral agreement with Nicosia.

The prospect of huge oil and gas reserves close to Cyprus has prompted the government to seek delineation of its continental shelf for exploitation. Demarcating an economic exclusion zone -- to ward off neighbouring countries encroaching on lucrative resources -- also involves discussions with Lebanon and Israel.
The Cypriot government is unwilling to disclose the extent of oil and gas deposits located between neighbours Israel, Syria, Egypt and Lebanon. However, the government has evidence of large oil and gas deposits in the area. Cyprus announced in June that Fahmy would visit Cyprus to discuss tapping oil and gas reserves.

Source: AFP
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