Gazprom Could Bail Out Cyprus in Gas Deal

Russian state gas giant Gazprom may be in talks with the Republic of Cyprus government about a bailout of the cash-strapped country in return for exploration concessions in its offshore territories, according to reports.

Cyprus' parliament rejected a European Union bailout package Tuesday that included a measure that would have seen everyone with a savings account in the country take a one-off levy of up to 9.9 percent on savings of more than $25,800 (EUR 20,000). Many savers in the country include Russian expats.

Instead, Cyprus could make a deal with Gazprom, which has offered the Republic of Cyprus a plan in which Gazprom would undertake the restructuring of the tiny country's banks in exchange for exploration rights for natural gas in the country's Exclusive Economic Zone, according to the Greek Reporter website.

However, although Russian and Cypriot finance ministers have been holding talks over the Mediterranean island's financial crisis, Gazprom has not confirmed whether or not it is involved.

Cyprus has already granted concessions to several companies in its EEZ, including Italy's ENI, Korea Gas Corporation, Total and Noble Energy. In December 2011, Noble discovered the Aphrodite gas field, which it estimates holds up to 9 trillion cubic feet of gas.

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