The exploratory rights had been acquired back in 2008 on a three-year deal with the option to extend for another two times. The contract terms have now expired and the rights are now legally set to be returned to the Cypriot government on May 23 2016.
Cyprus is now weighing up its options over what to do next – including courting other potential buyers.
Last year, Noble sold a 35% stake of Cyprus’ Block 12, which includes the Aphrodite field, to BG for $165 million. Noble Energy remains with a 35% stake while Israeli company Delek owns the remaining 30%.
Aphrodite, discovered in 2011, has gross mean natural gas resources of approximately four trillion cubic feet TCF.
Negotiations to sell part of Block 12 to Egypt were seriously undermined following the discovery of the Zohr supergiant gas field by Eni in Egyptian waters last August.
The gas find in Zohr is estimated at 30 tcf or 850 billion cubic metres. All of it will be allocated to cover the Egyptian domestic market.
When BG Group joined as a partner of Block 12 earlier this year, the government had hoped that Cyprus could sell gas to Egypt for liquefaction and onto Europe as liquefied natural gas (LNG). BG (now bought by Shell) is a major partner in the Idku LNG plant in Egypt.