The Total-Eni consortium wants to move more quickly in exploiting block 6 of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), Energy Minister Natasa Pilides said on Saturday.

According to Pilides, the consortium has shown signs of wanting to take quicker steps to exploit, the block they have received licences to explore.

She said that there is a lot that needs to be done and discussed regarding the next steps that will be taken for investment activities, as well as the investment plan and the various scenarios for transporting natural gas to markets.

In her statements in the area of Pelathousa when asked about the meeting that the President Nicos Anastasiades will have on Monday with the vice-president of Total Laurent Vivier, Pilides said that the vice-president of Total is also responsible for the Eastern Mediterranean region and Cyprus in particular.

“It is very important to see how we will move forward, as the consortium of Total-Eni, who manage block 6, have shown that they want to move forward with quicker steps in exploitation,” she said.

She added that Monday’s meeting will be interesting, and that she hopes things will progress quicker given the data at hand.

Last month, Pilides said that between two and three trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas had been uncovered in exploratory drilling in block 6.

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.

Pilides welcomed the find, saying 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.