Oil major Chevron will shortly begin drilling in the Aphrodite field to confirm further deposit quantities, Energy Minister Giorgos Papanastasiou said on Wednesday.

Speaking on CyBC, the minister said that for this purpose a floating drilling rig had already been dispatched to the Cyprus EEZ.

Responding to a comment about the recent flurry of information surrounding the island’s energy prospects, the minister gave an overview of achievements to date, saying progress had been achieved, with confirmation secured for units A1 and A2 and the latest now expected in A3.

Italy’s largest oil and gas company Eni has completed quantity confirmation drilling in Zeus and Cronos, and is expected to drill in Calypso by end of year or early 2024, Papanastasiou said.

There was no plan yet by third oil and gas giant Exxon Mobile for drilling in Glafkos, the minister added.

Once quantities are confirmed, the consortiums are expected to provide plans for exploitation and the state will expect strict adherence to time schedules, Papanastasiou said.

Elaborating on the outcomes of the extraction and how Cyprus would stand to benefit from it, Papanastasiou outlined three options.

The first was sending the gas to Egypt, however, infrastructure belonging to Eni would need to be built and a second option was using infrastructure belonging to BP.

A third alternative which has been proposed by Cyprus with an eye to secure cheaper gas for the island, would require a floating LNG operation, as the Cypriot market by itself is too small to be attractive.

The ministry has already called to the negotiation table interested parties and companies from Israel to discuss this third possibility, Papanastasiou said.

The various potential stakeholders have been invited to examine possible collaboration to see the project to fruition and determine which aspect of the supply chain operation each may be interested in taking on.

Security of the island’s energy supply, in any case, requires a backup – either a liquefaction station or floating gasification – in order for maintenance breaks to be carried out, Papanastasiou said.

Cyprus cannot rely solely on the LNG storage and regassification unit already under construction and expected to be delivered within the first three months of 2024, the minister concluded.