French oil major Total has alerted the government that its planned drilling for hydrocarbons in Cyprus’ economic waters will be pushed back to the summer.
According to daily Politis, the company has said that it will delay drilling its first exploratory well to June – rather than April, as indicated earlier.
The well, codenamed Onisiforos, lies in Block 11, on which Total has a concession to explore for oil and gas.
The delay is attributed to the prior uncertainty over the location of the company’s onshore support base.
Late last year, Total indicated it was planning to drill in April 2017. However their plans were temporarily thrown in limbo due to disagreements over who was entitled to provide the company with onshore logistical facilities out of the port of Limassol.
The hurdle was eventually overcome in late December following a deal struck between EDT, an oil and gas services company contracted by Total, and the consortium holding the marine services at the port after it was privatised.
But the hold-up resulted in setting back Total’s drilling date by two more months.
The agreement over the use of the Limassol port is but a quick fix, as far as Total’s programme is concerned. Whereas the arrangement does allow the energy company to use the port facilities until the end of 2018, beyond that, a question mark looms.
That will be especially true should Total, which has also bid in the third offshore licensing round, were to be awarded an additional exploration concession.
Earlier this month, Stephane Michel, Total’s president for exploration and production in the Middle East and North Africa region, told Reuters that the decision to drill Block 11 “was taken on the basis of the Zohr discovery”.
In August 2015, Italy’s ENI announced it had discovered in Egyptian waters a field – dubbed Zohr – holding an estimated 30 trillion cubic feet of gas. ENI had taken a gamble, using a geological sequencing model tracking carbonate reservoirs rather than the classical sand-reservoir model.
A geological map of the Cyprus-Egypt maritime border area shows a large ‘carbonate platform’ existing in the island’s southern offshore blocks of 10, 11 and 12, and in blocks 7 and 8.
Cyprus’ Block 11, operated by France’s Total since February 2013, lies about 6 kilometres from the Zohr discovery.
According to analysts cited by Reuters, Total, which has not made a major oil discovery in several years despite pouring about $10 billion in its “high-risk, high-reward” strategy launched in 2011, will also drill a well onshore in Egypt this year.