NICOSIA, Cyprus, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- Italian energy company Eni said the republic of Cyprus could serve as a strategic energy hub and a possible conduit for future Egyptian natural gas supplies.
Eni Chief Executive Officer Claudio Descalzi met in the Cypriot capital, Nicosia, with President Nicos Anastasiades to discuss the potential for future cooperation. The Italian company said Cyprus could play a role in the near future in a scenario involving the recent gas discovery made off the coast of Egypt.
"Eni believes in the significant synergies of joint development in the entire area of the eastern Mediterranean," the company said in a statement. "This area could be of crucial strategic importance as a gas hub for the whole region and also makes an important contribution to European energy security."
In late August, Eni announced the discovery of gas in the deepwater Zohr prospect off the Egyptian coast. With an estimated 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in place, it's the largest ever made in regional waters and potentially the largest in the world.
The company said it would work to fast track the development of the field by using "at best" existing onshore and offshore infrastructure.
A report this year from the U.S. Energy Information Administration observed territorial disputes in the eastern Mediterranean could "jeopardize joint development of potential resources in the area and could limit cooperation over potential export options."
Cyprus is central to Israel's strategic planning in a region long dependent on imported energy because of its proximity to regional counterparts and the benefit of pooling export programs.
A group of Israeli energy partners, Delek Group, Avner Oil Exploration and Noble Energy, in June submitted a declaration to the Cypriot government that reserves discovered in the Aphrodite prospect were considered of commercial quality.