By Elias Hazou
TEXAS-based Noble Energy is due to announce the results of its appraisal drilling at the Aphrodite gas field early next month, the energy minister said Tuesday.
The findings will pertain to such things as the volume and pressure of the gas at the A-2 appraisal well.
The results will give an updated estimate of the quantities lying in the gas field. Exploratory drilling in late 2011 had found the Aphrodite prospect has a gross mean average of 7 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas with an estimated gross resource range of 5 to 8 trillion.
Noble at the time determined there was a 25 per cent probability of the gas being lower than 5 tfc, the lower end of the estimate, and a 25 per cent chance exceeding the higher bound of 8 tcf.
Follow-up drilling this summer – which included flaring the gas on board the drilling platform – was done to narrow down the estimate gap.
The Houston-based corporation is also analysing samples from the A-2 well to determine the quality of the fuel.
Noble, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, is obliged to announce drilling results within a certain timeframe.
The company is meanwhile conducting preliminary surveys of additional prospective gas fields in its Block 12 concession.
Charles Ellinas, head of the Cyprus National Hydrocarbons Company (CNHC), said the Americans are mulling additional exploratory drilling at other locations within Block 12 towards the end of next year.
Early indications suggest that a couple of smaller fields in Block 12 may hold up to 2 tcf of gas each.
If true, that would boost the total size of the reserves in Block 12, making commerciality even likelier. The more gas there is, the better the chances of securing long-term buyers for it.
Cyprus plans to build a gas liquefaction plant for the processing, storage and export of LNG.
On Tuesday a Cypriot negotiating team gave a ministerial committee a progress report on their talks with Noble.
The team is tasked with negotiating “the advent of natural gas from Block 12… as soon as possible” and “the construction of a Liquefied Natural Gas plant at Vasilikos and the drafting of any additional agreements that may be required for the construction and operation of the plant.”
The team’s next meeting with Noble reps – one of a series – is scheduled for next week. The talks are confidential.
In July this year the government signed an MoU with Noble and its Israeli partners Delek and Avner, a preliminary accord that is hoped will lead to a final deal setting up a joint venture between the parties – a special-purpose vehicle seeking investors for the estimated €7 to €8bn LNG plant.
The purpose of the current talks with Noble is to hammer out the details of such a deal, with a target date of December 31, 2013 specified for the completion and signing of a follow-up agreement.
However, the deal will be cinched only once Noble makes a final investment decision (FID) – which would come later.
Meanwhile companies with prospection licences in other licensed blocks are expected to conduct initial, or exploratory, drilling in 2014.
Energy and trade minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis said one of the licensees would begin exploratory drilling in third of fourth quarter of 2014, and another licensee in the first quarter of 2015.
The Italian-South Korean consortium of ENI and KOGAS has concessions on blocks 2, 3 and 9; France’s Total is licensed to explore blocks 10 and 11.
On the other hydrocarbons front, officials from Vitol will reportedly be on the island today for possible talks for interim gas supplies.
Vitol were ranked second-best in a tender issued by the Natural Gas Public Company (DEFA), but their bid came back into play after negotiations between DEFA and preferred bidder Itera fell through.
The tender concerns importing limited quantities of natural gas for domestic electricity needs until such time as the island’s own reserves come on-stream.
The government is also exploring the possibility of temporarily importing gas from Israel’s Tamar field. The energy minister will be visiting Israel next month for talks with officials.
By Elias Hazou