French oil major Total are poised to request a renewal of their exploration license in offshore Block 11, local reports said on Tuesday.
In January of this year, it emerged that the company was considering abandoning prospecting in Cypriot waters after failing to identify drilling targets.
Anxious to keep Total’s operations going, even on a token level, the government subsequently moved to amend the company’s contract.
Total relinquished Block 10 without drilling any wells. The company was released from its original two-well drilling commitment – across two adjacent blocks, 10 and 11, lying on the maritime border with Egypt – but maintained exploration rights in Block 11, agreeing to continue to evaluate 3D seismic data in a bid to locate a possible target.
Total’s exploration license in Block 11 expires in February 2016.
But in September, a massive natural gas field was announced by Egypt. The Zohr field lies just 6km from the boundaries of Cyprus’ Block 11.
According to Phileleftheros, given the development, Total are now ready to ask for an extension on their Cyprus license.
The new contract would provide for exploratory drills, the paper said.
Energy minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis meanwhile was visiting Cairo, meeting with top Egyptian officials.
“Excellent meeting w/ Minister of Petroleum, Tarek El Molla. Bilateral agreements enhancing #Cyprus & #Egypt O&G coop,” he tweeted on Tuesday.
During his stay in Egypt, Lakkotrypis met El-Molla and Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail. He was due back on Tuesday evening.
The purpose of the meetings is to “review ways of further strengthening cooperation between Cyprus and Egypt on hydrocarbons issues,” an official announcement said.
The Zohr discovery in Egypt led to concerns that the energy-hungry country may no longer have need for Cypriot natural gas, as the two nations have been discussing in recent months.
Publically, Egyptian officials insist they are still keen on importing gas from Cyprus.
Experts have pointed out however, that Egypt would have no incentive to buy from Cyprus when it can monetise its own reserves faster and at less cost.