France’s Total is close to extending an offshore natural gas exploration programme in Cyprus after coming up empty in prior surveys, the energy minister said.
“The renewed agreement that we hope we will be signing next week will be talking about doing geological surveys in a different area but no drilling,” said minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis while speaking at an event at the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC “They can drill if they identify a drillable prospect, which unfortunately they have not done so far.”
Total confirmed in January that it had completed surveys over two Cypriot offshore blocks for which it had licenses, without finding potential drilling targets.
Italy’s ENI failed to find gas in a drill last year and is now searching elsewhere off Cyprus. US energy company Noble found gas reserves in 2011.
Turkey has challenged the island’s right to drill for gas, maintaining the Turkish Cypriots have an equal claim.
Total is among a raft of international oil exploration and production companies, including BP and ConocoPhillips , that have slashed 2015 budgets in light of lower oil prices.
Drilling in the east Mediterranean is costly, because of its considerable depth. (R)