UPDATE 1-Cyprus in talks with companies over LNG terminal
NICOSIA, June 26 (Reuters) - Cyprus launched talks on Wednesday with Noble Energy, Israel's Delek and Avner for the development of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on the island to tap vast reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean.
A memorandum of understanding signed in Nicosia on Wednesday defines the framework of negotiations between Cyprus and the three companies, with an anticipated cut-off date for a deal at the end of this year.
The LNG terminal, which will have an estimated cost of $6 billion, will be the largest investment in Cyprus. The island discovered natural gas reserves off its coast in late 2011, following massive discoveries in neighbouring Israel.
"It will be expandable to serve not only Cypriot natural gas deposits, but potentially the deposits of our neighbouring countries," Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said.
Cyprus anticipates that its first LNG cargo would be delivered from the Vasilikos plant to international markets in late 2019 or early 2020, an official statement said.