Positive news is expected from the findings of the third drill in the Aphrodite natural gas field in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), to test the quality and quantity of the gas, Energy Minister George Papanastasiou said on Monday.

Papanastasiou said the drill was completed last week on July 13, and was conducted in the middle of the field, located in block 12 of the EEZ.

The minister said that two previous drills had been conducted in the east and west of the field.

“Drilling has been completed successfully, [the drill ship] had gone to the site which confirms the quantities, and there may be something newer once the quality of the natural gas has been assessed, but it seems that our news is positive,” he said.

“For the first time, drilling was attempted in the centre of the field to confirm the quantities and quality of natural gas that we actually expected,” he added.

Although this was technically an appraisal (or follow-up) drill, the minister said, the depth at which it was carried out could also qualify it as a development borehole.

Papanastasiou noted that the revised extraction plan for the field mentions the beginning of 2028, but “it could easily be 2027.”

He said that the results of the drilling itself are expected by the end of August, while at the same time they are considering sending a response to the operators, Chevron, regarding the revised development plan which the company handed over about a month and a half ago.

“We have until the end of August to give our comments on this plan, so these two events, the completion of the drilling, but also the fact that a plan has been submitted for the development of the field, will be something that the ministry will decide, and will inform the specific company,” Papanastasiou said.

Asked about the cooperation of Cyprus with Egypt and Israel, the minister said that the names that will take part in the two technical committees were agreed over the weekend.

He recalled that there are two committees agreed between the ministers of energy about a month ago – one for natural gas and hydrogen, the other for the electricity interconnector between Cyprus and Israel. The committees will start work around the end of this month.

Announcements on this are possible at the tripartite meeting on July 26, he said.

Asked if there are any developments regarding other gas reserves within the Cypriot EEZ, Papanastasiou said that there are reserves located a little further south. The fastest developing one is likely to be ‘Kronos’, which is under operators ENI, while Total is also in the same field.

Regarding an opposition Disy proposal to reinstate electricity subsidies due to the heatwave, Papanastasiou stated that although this is a matter that concerns the ministry of finance, it has been extensively discussed with the energy ministry and at the cabinet and the decision taken wasn’t easy.

He noted that the electricity subsidy burdens the state’s coffers significantly so they [the subsidies] are now more targeted to vulnerable groups, while other groups may also be included.

Papanastasiou said that this will be made known in the coming days.