By Staff Reporter
THE expression of intent by Israeli companies to give natural gas to Egypt does not affect Cyprus` strategic plans, and were expected, Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis said on Tuesday.
The minister was commenting on reports on Monday that the partners in Israel’s giant Leviathan natural gasfield have said they had signed a preliminary agreement with British oil and gas company BG Group to negotiate a deal to export gas to BG’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Idku, Egypt.
Texas-based Noble Energy is the field’s operator with a 39.66 percent stake. Avner Oil and Delek Drilling, subsidiaries of Delek Group, hold a combined 45.34 per cent, and Ratio Oil has the remaining 15 per cent.
Delek and Avner last month raised $2 billion in an international bond offering to help fund Leviathan’s development.
The gas unit of Turkish fuel retailer Turcas is holding non-binding talks with another company to jointly procure natural from Leviathan, while Leviathan’s partners have also started looking into selling gas through a pipeline to Cyprus.
Noble owns 70 per cent of the rights of the Cyprus Aphrodite field, and Delek Group’s Avner and Delek Drilling Limited Partnership own 15 per cent each.
Lakkotrypis, speaking at the House Commerce Committee on Tuesday, said it was “pivotal” that additional quantities of natural gas were discovered in Cyprus` Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
He said due to the fact that the results of appraisal drilling last year and did not respond to the primary estimations; “we need to look for more natural gas,” he said.
On new drilling operations due this year, Lakkotrypis said: “We expect that the Italian company ENI and the Korean firm KOGAS will begin at the end of the summer, a few months earlier than scheduled, and we are now holding discussions with Noble to see when their next exploratory drilling will take place, probably at the beginning of 2015,” he said.
As regards Total, he said that since they would be drilling in a new area where there were no discoveries so far, they were carrying out an intensive data analysis and their exploratory drilling would take place towards the end of 2015, at western blocks 10 and 11.Results would be known two to three months after that.