An energy deal was signed between Cyprus’s and Egypt’s energy ministers this past Monday, February 16th 2015, which could see the island supplying its Mediterranean neighbor with gas. Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab was in Nicosia for the signing of the agreement by Cyprus Energy Minister George Lakkotrypis and his Egyptian counterpart Sherif Ismail.

Cyprus is keen to exploit the Aphrodite field off its southeastern coast but the reserves proven so far are not considered sufficient to make it viable for the island to develop onshore export infrastructure of its own.

The memorandum signed authorizes the “Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company and the Cyprus Hydrocarbons Company to examine technical solutions for transporting natural gas, through a direct marine pipeline, from the Aphrodite field to Egypt… This will optimize the use of the gas infrastructure and achieve an added value for both Cyprus and Egypt,” a joint statement said.

The two sides aim to conclude a comprehensive agreement within six months. “We aim for an agreement on this regard within six months of the signing of the memorandum of understanding,” the Egyptian prime minister’s office statement said. Egypt’s oil minister said that prices were not expected to be agreed upon in that period: “There is no agreement on the Cypriot gas import prices. That will be negotiated after the expiration of the six months“.

Cyprus first discovered natural gas offshore in late 2011, while once gas-rich Egypt has turned into a net importer from an exporter due to increasing consumption and declining production. The Aphrodite field (Block 12), is estimated to contain between 102 billion and 170 billion cubic meters (3.6 trillion and 6 trillion cubic feet) of gas.

The island needs to find more reserves to make a proposed liquefied natural gas plant at Vassiliko on the south coast financially viable. But France’s Total and Italian-Korean venture ENI-Kogas have yet to find signs of underwater riches in other exploration blocks.