Cyprus-talk restart lifts hope for gas line

Prospects improved for construction of a natural gas pipeline between East Mediterranean fields and Turkey Apr. 11 when negotiations over the reunification of Cyprus resumed after a 54-day break.

Prospects improved for construction of a natural gas pipeline between East Mediterranean fields and Turkey Apr. 11 when negotiations over the reunification of Cyprus resumed after a 54-day break.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci scheduled four meetings during the next month and a half but set no deadline for an agreement.

Nearly 2 years of talks mediated by the United Nations seemed headed for settlement in January when representatives of the island-nation’s guarantors—Turkey, Greece, and the UK—joined the negotiations.

But Akinci withdrew in February, citing a legislative decision that he said moved the Greek Cypriot position away from shared governance.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 between the Turkish north and Greek south.

The government of Turkey has made an end to the Cypriot impasse a condition for addressing a territorial dispute stymying a pipeline to carry gas to Turkey from undeveloped deepwater fields, including Leviathan off Israel and Aphrodite off Cyprus.

Meanwhile, an ambitious alternative project received a boost earlier this month when energy ministers of Italy, Greece, Cyprus, and Israel signed a declaration of support for the proposed Eastern Mediterranean (EastMed) pipeline. They met in Tel Aviv with European Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete.

The 1,900-km EastMed pipeline would link the four countries and have initial capacity of 10 billion cu m/year of gas. Offshore segments would total 1,300 km.

According to IGI Poseidon SA, Athens, a 50-50 venture of DEPA SA of Greece and Edison SPA of Italy, studies confirm that the project is technically feasible, economically viable, and complementary to other export options.

IGI Poseidon is doing preliminary work on the EastMed project with financial help from the European Union's Connecting Europe Facility.

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