Between two and three trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas has been uncovered in exploratory drilling in block six of Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the energy ministry announced on Wednesday.

The find in the Zeus-1 area of the block is at 162km from Cyprus’ coast, 5km west of the Cronos-1 site and at a depth of 2,300 metres.

Senior fellow at the Global Energy Centre of the Atlantic Council Charles Ellinas told the Cyprus Mail this was good news but urged caution.

“It’s good news obviously, although it is a small gas field it strengthens the prospects of the region,” he said, but stressed that a find of two to three Tcf is not enough to change energy companies’ long-term plans.

Energy Minister Natasa Pilides welcomed the latest find as she told Alpha that each such discovery strengthens Cyprus’ prospects for developing the gas fields, particularly considering the current European energy crisis.

She noted, however, that confirmatory searches are set to take place in due course.

Asked as to when Cyprus can expect to produce any gas, Pilides said that they are awaiting Chevron’s latest studies – with a view for exports to start in 2027. She explained that Chevron is looking at ways to export gas from the Aphrodite field, discovered in 2011, via Egypt. But Pilides said that the final study on such a move won’t be ready until next year.

The minister said she hopes that the proposal for a floating platform will gain traction although it may cost more, meaning that transport to terminals in Egypt may be more attractive.

Ellinas explained that the latest find strengthens ENI’s fund for potential development but that the EU still holds the key.

Ellinas said that one option is to link these discoveries to others nearby – mentioning ENI’s work in Egypt as well but reiterated that the EU has still not changed its policy on gas, reducing consumption by 2030.

“Some companies have already said that to develop these gas fields they need long term contracts, two to three Tcf is not large enough to change the plans of these companies,” he said.

The confirmation on Wednesday comes after ENI announced a similar discovery in Cronos-1 back in August, which yielded preliminary estimates of about 2.5 trillion Tcf.

The Calypso-1 gas discovery came in 2018.

ENI has been operating in Cyprus since 2013. The company operates blocks 2, 3, 6, 8 and 9, and holds stakes in blocks 7 and 11 operated by TotalEnergies.