Cyprus Mail

Gas exploration set to pick up pace

Mr Palmer said that the US supports the equitable sharing of the revenue from the exploitation of natural gas between the two communities

By Elias Hazou

AFTER a lull, prospecting for hydrocarbons in Cypriot waters is set to pick up pace this year and continue into the next.

French oil major Total expects to start drilling in mid 2015, the company’s head of Cyprus operations said yesterday.

Jean-Luc Porcheron was speaking during a presentation organised by the Cyprus-French Business Association themed “Total in Cyprus: A long term perspective”.

“This is just the beginning of exploration in Cyprus,” Porcheron said.

“We have a lot of work to do before drilling which means that we will probably not be able to drill before mid 2015,” he added.

Total’s official urged patience, noting that “we will try our best to carry out our activities in a timely manner but we cannot skip all the technical stages.”

Porcheron said also that LNG offers optimal flexibility for marketing and value creation, noting at the same time that the (onshore) LNG project brings long term benefits to a country.

Noting that there are other alternatives that may be economically viable – depending on the quantity of gas found – he said Total are considering “all options,” including that of a pipeline.

But he went on to concede that “pipeline does not offer flexibility,” stressing the importance of having “a good and long term relationship” with the country where the receiving terminal is located.

Total has exploration concessions on blocks 10 and 11 of Cyprus’ EEZ after signing two production sharing contracts with the government.

Additionally Total E&P Cyprus Ltd has been granted a licence to carry out seismic exploration for oil and gas in block 10 and in parts of blocks 6, 7 and 11 of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone.

The company will carry out a two-dimensional seismic survey using a specific type of vessels to locate hydrocarbons in the specific blocks. The licence is valid for three months, running from the February 1 until May 1, and can be renewed.

The French company, with a market capitalisation of just over $100bn, is exploring for both gas and oil.

The Italian-Korean consortium ENI-KOGAS meanwhile are planning to drill their first exploratory well in the second half of this year, most likely sometime in the third quarter.

The consortium has exploration licences on offshore blocks 2, 3 and 9.

Stelios Nicolaides, acting director of the newly-established hydrocarbons service at the energy ministry, said ENI-KOGAS are planning more exploratory drilling for next year. Drilling this year and the next would involve all of ENI’s three concessions.

And Noble Energy will drill another exploratory well late this year, within their Block 12 license. The Texas-based energy company has already found gas reserves at their first drill site, dubbed ‘Aphrodite’, of between 3.6 trillion cubic feet (tcf) and 6tcf , with a gross mean resource of 5tcf.

So far the proven reserves in Cyprus’ EEZ are not sufficient for a land-based LNG plant, which requires at least 5.5 tcf for a single train, or production line.

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