NICOSIA, June 2 (Xinhua) -- Cyprus' Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis confirmed on Tuesday that Israel's Delek Group was seeking to increase its share in a Cypriot offshore gas field close to Israel's gas fields in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Lakkotrypis, in confirming the report, said this was a positive development as it came at a time of slack energy prices.
He added that Delek's move was part of efforts to raise capital to start developing the gas field, which contains an estimated five trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Delek Group announced on Monday that it had entered into exploratory negotiations with U.S.-based Noble Energy to buy 19.9 percent of its share in the Cypriot Aphrodite gas field at a starting price of 155 U.S. dollars.
The Delek Group already owns 30 percent of rights on the gas field through its subsidiaries Delek Drilling and Avner Oil and Gas LP.
Noble Energy, which has carried out two drillings in the gas field, has a 70 percent share in the gas field.
But any agreement between Noble Energy and Delek Group has to be approved by the Cypriot government, which has licensed the concession.
Delek and Avner are the main owners of two giant Israeli gas fields which jointly contain an estimated 24 trillion cubic feet of natural gas close to Cyprus' Aphrodite field.
Israel and Cyprus are engaged in consultations for a possible cooperation on jointly exporting their gas reserves though a common pipe.
Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades is scheduled to visit Israel on June 15 for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on issues of common interest, which a Cypriot government spokesman said included cooperation on natural gas development.
Cyprus is also engaged in negotiations with Egypt to provide it with natural gas through existing Egyptian infrastructure.