In 2008 Texas-based Noble Energy received the offshore concession from the Cypriot government to explore the Aphrodite field, also known as Block 12. The company began exploration of the block in late 2011, when it made its first discovery of gas reserves.
Noble has a 70 percent stake in the operation, while Israeli partners Delek Drilling and Avner Oil and Gas each have a 15 percent stake. On June 2 the Israeli Delek Group stated to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange it was negotiating with Noble Energy to buy an extra 19.9 percent stake in the venture for around $155 million.
The field is a 1250 square mile [3237 square km] area located southeast of Cyprus in the island's Exclusive Economic Zone [EEZ], and only 34 km from the Leviathan gas field, the largest field in the Mediterranean Sea with an estimated 22 trillion cubic feet [622 billion cubic meters] of gas.
According to Noble Energy, the natural gas discovery in the Aphrodite field has estimated gross mean resources of 5 trillion cubic feet [142 billion cubic meters].
The Cyprus Energy Ministry stated on Monday that the notification from the consortium is a "significant milestone to Cyprus's transition from the hydrocarbons exploration phase to that of exploitation."
"It is another important step towards the monetization of the country's indigenous natural gas reserves," said the ministry, adding that it intends to use the reserves both for domestic electricity generation, "and for exports via direct subsea pipelines to neighboring countries."
Cyprus aims to begin exporting gas by 2022; in February, the governments of Cyprus and Egypt signed a memorandum of understanding for the possible export of gas from Cyprus to the domestic Egyptian market via an undersea pipeline.