Drilling for oil and gas (illustrative)
Drilling for oil and gas (illustrative)Israel news photo: Flash 90

Israeli firms Delek Drilling and Anver Oil and Gas Exploration signed an agreement Monday to acquire a 30 percent stake in exploration rights for gas and oil off the southern shore of Cyprus.

The drilling is to be carried out by U.S.-based Noble Energy. Both Delek and Anver own majority rights in Israel’s own mammoth gas discoveries, the Leviathan and Tamar fields off Israel’s northern coast.

Cypriot Commerce Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis acknowledged in making the announcement that the deal provided a “new era of Cyprus-Israeli strategic cooperation which includes economic and political dimensions,” AFP reported.

The deal comes less than a week after Cyprus signed an agreement with French energy giant Total, to conduct exploratory drilling for gas and oil in two blocks off its southern shore. 

Noble Energy, Inc was the first to drill when awarded Block 12, after Cyprus launched its search for an underwater gas field in 2007.

In December 2011, Noble announced it had discovered natural gas reserves of up to 8 trillion cubic feet (226.5 billion cubic meters), at an estimated value of 100 billion euros.

Cypriot analysts estimated the field could satisfy domestic needs “for decades” and enable the country to become a regional player with the export of gas to Europe by 2019.