NICOSIA will enter into concrete talks with Cairo over a possible natural gas sale to Egypt after the first results of the exploration activity by ENI-KOGAS in Cypriot offshore blocks 2,3 and 9, Cyprus Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis has said.
In statements following a meeting of the Council of Ministers, Lakkotrypis made clear that the construction of a natural gas liquefaction terminal remained a priority for Nicosia, adding however that in the long-term Cyprus should diversify its export options.
Lakkotrypis’ statements came after his visit to Cairo for the meeting of the joint technical committee which, inter alia, “explored technical options with regard to a possible future transport of Cypriot natural gas to Egypt.”
Lakkotrypis said Egypt was currently suffering from a severe energy crisis and is “desperately seeking natural gas imports.”
He said that he briefed his Egyptian counterparts over Nicosia`s planning and for the next exploration drilling by the Italian-Korean consortium ENI-KOGAS in blocks 2,3,9. Cyprus has already identified four possible natural gas reservoirs.
“The first results at least from the first drilling are expected before the end of the year and we agreed that at that point we will be ready to engage in more concrete talks over the sale of natural gas at least,” Lakkotrypis said.
Noting that the discussions on a technocratic level would continue, the minister said: “It was clear that for our part the LNG terminal is a priority on the condition of the results we will have in the end of the year.”
Responding to a question on Nicosia`s broader planning on the issue of natural gas, Lakkotrypis said the planning did not cover the LNG terminal only. “Cyprus can export to its customers in multiple ways, Certainly the LNG plant is the first option but in the long-term we should have a diversification of exports, provided that we have sufficient natural gas resources, which, we hope, will be proven in the next months, at least for the eastern offshore blocks where the consortium ENI-KOGS operates.”
So far US Noble Energy discovered a gross natural gas reservoir of 4 trillion cubic feet in block 12. However this reserve is not considered sufficient to sustain an onshore LNG plant. Nicosia is awaiting the exploration drilling by the consortium ENI-KOGAS in blocks 2,3 and 9, while French giant TOTAL is expected to begin exploration activity in blocks 10 and 11 in the second half of 2015.
According to an official press release, during his stay in Cairo, Lakkotrypis held separate meetings with the Egyptian Ministers of Petroleum, Mineral Resources Sherif Ismail and Industry and Commerce Mounir Fakhri Abdel Nour. His visit took place in the context of preparing the meeting of the presidents of Cyprus and Egypt in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
Lakkotrypis and Ismail presided over the meeting of the Cyprus-Egypt joint technical Committee on hydrocarbons, which discussed the course and planning of the two countries with regard to hyrdrocarbons exploration and exploitation in their respective Exclusive Economic Zones, as well as ways of enhancing their strategic cooperation on energy issues.