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Cyprus and Egypt sign oil and gas cooperation deal

Cyprus and Egypt signed a memorandum of understanding in Nicosia to cooperate in exploiting oil and natural gas reserves thought to be under the sea separating the two countries.

The memorandum, signed by Egyptian Oil Minister Amin Sameh Samir Fahmi and Cypriot Commerce Minister George Lillikas, covers sharing technical know-how and expertise in energy fields where Cyprus and Egypt have mutual interests.

"I believe without reservation that Cyprus has very good possibilities of finding natural gas and oil," said Fahmi after the signing ceremony.

"We will continue our cooperation until we are certain Cyprus enjoys the actual possession and use of gas or oil," he added.

Fahmi said signing the accord opened up "new horizons" of beneficial cooperation in these fields.

The two countries are in agreement over the deliniation of their relative "exclusive economic zones," but Cyprus needs to secure consent of six other neighboring countries, including Turkey, on their areas of control.

A number of surveys have strongly indicated the presence of significant oil and gas deposits inside the exclusive economic zones of the two countries. And Cyprus is eager to find a formula that will provide for joint exploitation.

"Signing this memorandum is very significant because we are cooperating with a country which is especially friendly to Cyprus and is willing to provide experience and expertise on all levels concerning gas and petroluem," said Lillikas.

The minister said he hoped that the memorandum would pave the way for other agreements in the gas and oil sectors.

"Egypt has gone ahead with its own studies inside its economic exclusive zone and has had great success in extracting and exploiting oil and natural gas reserves." However, Lillikas avoided questions about whether Cyprus would carry out a survey to pinpoint untapped energy resources.

The memorandum also covers importing gas from Egypt and converting Cypriot power plants to use natural gas.

Cairo,07 25 2005
Redaction
The Daily Star
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