By Elias Hazou
A DRILLSHIP that will be prospecting for natural gas on behalf of an Italian-Korean consortium is en route to Cyprus’ offshore Block 9 and is set to arrive at its destination on Tuesday.
The Saipem 10000 ultra deepwater drillship is currently on a west-to-east approach to the island, with an official ETA of 4pm, Tuesday. It’s understood that it will commence operations within one or two days of reaching its destination.
The drillship is set to bore its first well at a site dubbed ‘Onasagoras’ in Block 9.
Solon Kassinis, former director of the energy service at the commerce ministry, speaking on Sigma television early yesterday, called this week “historic” in that it marks the launch of a new drilling cycle.
According to Kassinis, the first drill will last for approximately 80 days, after which the ship will move to Block 3, spending another 80 days there drilling at a second site.
It would then return to the ‘Onasagoras’ well in Block 9 for appraisal, or follow-up, drilling, he said.
The ENI-KOGAS combine – with concessions on Blocks 2, 3 and 9 – are contractually obligated to drill four wells, although they could drill up to six, depending on their findings in the interim.
The former energy chief revealed that whereas gas quantities at ‘Onasagoras’ are relatively small, a far larger reservoir within Block 9 is waiting to be tapped.
This second reservoir lies within an extensive geological formation, and could potentially hold “huge quantities,” Kassinis claimed.
But, he added, more seismic surveys were first required to obtain a clearer picture of the geology; as the surveys are ongoing, ENI’s drillship could conceivably conduct operations there at a later stage.
Kassinis said also that the Saipem 10000 can drill for oil as well, and did not rule out the possibility that ENI may do so.
Earlier, energy minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis had said ENI’s drilling schedule would last between 12 and 18 months. The government has declined to provide details, citing a confidentiality agreement with the companies. Lakkotrypis did say that six potential fields in Block 9 have thus far been identified.
Meanwhile Kassinis said he expected US outfit Noble Energy to drill a new well in their Block 12 concession in early 2015.
Under their contract, Noble Energy has until October 23, 2015, to drill one more well. So far the Texas-based energy firm has discovered estimated gross mean resources of 5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas at the ‘Aphrodite’ reservoir.
For the time being Noble’s discoveries are insufficient to render economically feasible the construction of a land-based gas liquefaction terminal, which the government here is keen to proceed with. It is hoped that additional exploration elsewhere may yield enough gas finds to make the onshore LNG project viable.