Cyprus President Due in Lebanon Thursday for Talks on Energy Search
Cyprus President Demetris Christofias will pay an official visit to Lebanon on Thursday to discuss the prospect of cooperation in the exploitation of offshore oil and gas.
Christofias will hold talks with President Michel Suleiman "to review economic issues and growth prospects that are opening up in the region in relation to the discovery of large reserves of hydrocarbons," a Cypriot official said on Monday.
Cyprus has forged ahead with its own energy search but is anxious to conclude demarcation agreements on maritime exclusive economic zones (EEZ) with its neighbors.
Cyprus has also signed delineation agreements with Lebanon, Egypt and Israel to pave the way for exploiting hydrocarbon deposits that criss-cross their boundaries.
But an agreement has been held up in the Lebanese parliament due to Lebanon's own dispute with Israel over sea borders.
Cypriot Speaker Yiannakis Omirou visited Lebanon in December 2012 and discussed ways to bolster cooperation between Lebanon and Cyprus.
The cabinet approved in September 2012 the proposed borders of Lebanon’s Exclusive Economic Zone in the Mediterranean.
In early November, the cabinet approved the appointment of the six members of the petroleum authority and in June, Lebanon was able to restore 530 square kilometers of a maritime zone that it considers it to be within its zone.
Lebanon has been slow to exploit its maritime resources compared with other eastern Mediterranean countries. Israel, Cyprus and Turkey are all much more advanced in drilling for oil and gas.
Exploratory drilling conducted by Houston-based Noble Energy in Block 12 of Cyprus' EEZ indicates a gross natural gas reserve of up to 254.9 billion cubic meters (9 trillion cubic feet).
Noble expects to commercially extract and transfer the natural gas to Cyprus shores by late 2018.
And Nicosia is negotiating with Italian giants ENI, France's Total and South Korea's Kogas for permits to drill for gas and oil in other blocks off Cyprus.
Cyprus hopes its energy bonanza can eventually help pull it out of recession and tackle its huge debt which has forced it to seek an EU bailout.