NICOSIA, December (Xinhua) — The Ministry of Energy, Commerce and Industry of Cyprus said on Friday that it has received a letter from the U.S.-based energy company Chevron Corp. confirming “the parties’ alignment” on the exploitation of the Aphrodite natural gas field.

The field, discovered by the Texas-based Noble Energy company in 2011, is estimated to hold 4.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

The ministry said in a press release that the letter by Chevron, operator of the Aphrodite natural gas field, was in response to the points included in a ministry’s letter, dated Nov. 20, 2023, in relation to the development of the gas field.

It added that “with the common understanding that has now been reached, the parties are intensifying discussions in the coming weeks on the basis of the agreed Development and Production Plan, for the mutually beneficial exploitation of the natural gas reserves at Aphrodite.”

Energy Minister Giorgos Papanastasiou told Cyprus’s state CyBC radio that it will take days or even weeks before the two sides agreed on the final arrangements.

Papanastasiou said that his ministry aims at getting natural gas from Aphrodite by the end of 2027.

If all goes according to plan, Aphrodite will be the first of several natural gas fields discovered in Cyprus’s offshore Exclusive Economic Zone to be developed.

Note that the ongoing war between in Gaza presents a range of clear security risks to energy operations in the Eastern Mediterranean, especially in Israel. The conflict does little to improve the outlook for further integration of the natural gas sectors in Israel, Egypt, Cyprus and Lebanon with a view to exports beyond the region, and this trajectory will worsen if fears of a significant escalation in fighting beyond Gaza become a reality.

As the war continues, uncertainty over the future of the East Med gas industry and its potential to become a major exporter to European or other markets will linger. Without a doubt, an escalation that results in major damage to gas assets, intentional or otherwise, would represent the most dire turn of events for the sector to date.