By Poly Pantelides
THE long-awaited offshore natural gas production test got underway yesterday and the flame was finally ignited following the repair of a glitch that temporarily halted the process last week.
Charles Ellinas, chairman of the Cyprus National Hydrocarbons Company, said that what is known as a drill stem test at the Block 12 concession operated by US-based Noble Energy, started yesterday morning.
“[Noble] has told us everything is underway normally,” Ellinas said.
The test was scheduled to start last week but was put on hold due to a mechanical malfunction.
Ellinas said such problems and difficulties were not unusual, but said that Noble Energy had extensive experience in dealing with such processes.
Noble is running the test to measure pressure behaviour and obtain information to establish whether a well has a viable commercial hydrocarbon reservoir.
As part of the test, a flame was ignited on the platform – ENSCO 5006 – in a process known as flaring.
Ellinas said this was only a precaution, aimed at disposing the natural gas safely. Flaring is set to last about a week, and gas samples will be sent to Noble’s labs in the US in Houston for analysis.
Preliminary findings on the hydrocarbon content should be available within three weeks after the content arrives in Houston but other calculations pertaining to the quantity should take longer.
Speaking about the possibility of a second confirmatory drilling, Ellinas recalled that when the CEO of Noble, Charles Davidson, announced the conduct of confirmatory drilling in Block 12 last year, OTC Huston had said that there was a 25 per cent likelihood that a second confirmatory drilling would be required..
Ellinas said that the analysis of a confirmatory drilling was governed by international regulations and that the analysis of the results must meet certain criteria based on probabilities.
If drilling does not meet the criteria a second drilling may be needed, Ellinas said, adding that in any case by the end of September “we will know whether second confirmatory drilling is required or not”.
The production test is part of appraisal drilling in Cyprus’ Block 12 concession, which has a gross mean average of 7.0 trillion cubic feet (tcf) (200 billion cubic metres) of natural gas with an estimated gross resource range of 5.0 to 8.0 trillion cubic feet. Officials have said that proved reserves of 6tcf would be necessary for the prospect to be commercially viable.
Meanwhile, Energy minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis is having a series of meetings in the US with stakeholders in the energy field.
This includes a working lunch with Noble officials, and meetings with the newly-comprised joint action committee at the Congress for Greek-Israeli issues as well as members of US construction company Halliburton, which was told it could use its new Cyprus activities as a springboard for further action in the region, Lakkotrypis said.
Lakkotrypis also met with his US counterpart Ernest Moniz to discuss energy developments, as part of a series of meetings focusing on Cyprus’ hydrocarbons prospects.
Lakkotrypis has also met with a number of US state representatives, including the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Diplomacy Amos J Hochstein.
Lakkotrypis told the Cyprus News Agency they discussed energy safety and cooperation between Cyprus, the US and Israel.
“The US wants stability in the region and they have welcomed the cooperation between Cyprus, Greece and Israel”, he said.
The energy ministries of the three countries recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the fields of energy and water resources. In a joint communiqué the three ministers expressed the support of the privately launched EuroAsia Interconnector project aiming to connect the countries and “potentially allow for the export of electricity generated in the Eastern Mediterranean through the trans-European networks.”
Lakkotrypis will continue meetings in the coming days, and is pencilled in for a round table discussion of the World Policy Institute and New America Foundation, meetings with energy companies, and addressing business communities including the Cyprus-American Chamber of Commerce. He is due to return to Cyprus this Sunday.