NOTE: Turkish state propaganda terminology against EU's Republic of Cyprus removed.
A minimum of three years is needed to be able to ship gas firstly to Turkey and further to the world market from the Aphrodite gas field in Cyprus and the Leviathan field in Israel, general manager of Turkish Zorlu Energy Natural Gas Group said Wednesday.
Zorlu Energy General Manager Fuat Celepci told Anadolu Agency that the private sector in Turkey expects progress in Mediterranean gas following the normalization process between Turkey and Israel in the region, but taking into account that Mediterranean gas also constitutes gas from the Aphrodite field in Cyprus.
"The expected steps were taken between Turkey and Israel in the context of normalization, but Mediterranean gas is not just Israeli gas. We need to take concrete steps and present it to world energy markets," Celepci said.
He explained that the route to be used for the transfer of Israeli gas would pass through the exclusive economic area of Cyprus.
"Depending on this, we may encounter some obstacles in the development of the planned project to bring Israeli gas to the Turkish and world markets. According to the United Nations Convention on Maritime Law, Cyprus has no right to say 'no' to this pipeline that will pass through its own exclusive economic zone," he added.
However, Celepci noted that the approval of the environmental impact assessment report, which is required for the passage of the pipeline, will need to be obtained from the relevant institutions of Cyprus.
"Cyprus has the authority to determine technical details and the route of the pipeline that plans to pass through its own exclusive economic zone," he said.
He added that it is likely that changes may need to be made, including the route of the pipeline to carry the Israeli gas, which could lead to delays. He asserted that it appears impossible to progress the project without firstly resolving the existing problem between the self-declared, recognized only by Turkey so-called 'Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus' (Note: illegally occupied by Turkey northern third of Cyprus and cleansed of its Christian majority population) and the internationally recognized, EU member Cyprus (Note: no effective control over the occupied territories).
Turkey's goal on the island of Cyprus is to achieve a unitary administration in a federal structure with both southern and northern Cyprus along with the aim of both communities mutually benefitting from the natural gas resources off the island, Celebci said.
Even if Cyprus agrees to send this gas unilaterally, the Turkish Cypriot community has a share in this gas. This would not be acceptable for Turkey should this be carried out. Therefore, in addition to the normalization process between Israel and Turkey, negotiations between the north and south need to be positively resolved, Celepci cautioned.
The East Mediterranean region has several natural gas fields which are not commercialized yet via pipelines or LNG facilities, such as the Leviathan field with 621 billion cubic meters (bcm) in capacity, the Tamar field with 283 bcm in offshore Israel and the relatively small Aphrodite field with 127 bcm capacity in offshore Cyprus.
Turkey and Israel have been conducting high level talks to normalize bilateral relations while experts concur that the realization of a natural gas pipeline from Israel to Turkey is a key motivator.