The government is in talks with the consortium of ENI-Total regarding their timetable for an appraisal, or follow-up drill at the Calypso gas prospect in offshore block 6, energy minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis said on Monday.
At the same time, he added, the government is discussing with ENI the latter’s broader exploration programme in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
“ENI is a big regional player, it has concessions on several[offshore] blocks, and we are discussing with them their exploration programme,” Lakkotrypis told reporters on the sidelines of an event in Nicosia.
In February, ENI announced that it made a discovery of lean gas off the coast of Cyprus after drilling an exploratory well at Calypso. The company said it believed the gas play to hold around 6 to 8 trillion cubic feet.
Also in February, Turkish warships – on the pretext of conducting military exercises – blockaded the path of a drillship chartered by ENI in block 3.
After being immobilized for two weeks, the drillship eventually withdrew.
ENI officials have been at pains to stress that the incident does not derail their exploration plans and their commitments to Cyprus.
In his address meanwhile at the EuroAsia Interconnector event, Lakkotrypis described the mooted electricity cable project as being of “strategic significance” as it will bring the three involved countries close together.
The EuroAsia Interconnector is a planned subsea cable system that will connect the Israeli electricity grid to Europe via Greece and Cyprus.
Touted as an ‘energy highway’ linking Israel to southwest Europe, the project has received backing from the European Union as a ‘project of common interest’.
It will allow for bidirectional transmission of electricity between EU states and the Israeli grid.
Work on the first phase, carrying a price tag of about €3.5bn, is slated to begin in late 2018-early 2019 and will involve laying the subsea cables and constructing the first converter stations.
Initially the project will have a capacity of 1,000MW, to be later doubled to 2,000MW.
According to Lakkotrypis, at some point the EuroAsia Interconnector will be connected to the Cypriot electricity grid, allowing for both the import and export of electricity. Electricity generated from renewable sources of energy would also be incorporated.
And prices for consumers would “likely” decrease, he added.
Among others, the project has taken flak from the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign for Palestinian rights.
In a briefing document released this February, the Palestinian BDS National Committee said that once operational the EuroAsia Interconnector would be supplying electricity to Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank and Syria’s Golan Heights, all of which are illegal under international law.