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Energy minister optimistic over Aphrodite gas field solution

Energy Minister George Papanastasiou wants Aphrodite's partners to prioritise supply to the island.
Energy Minister George Papanastasiou

Energy Minister George Papanastasiou said on Wednesday he believed a solution will be found to issues that arose with Chevron and the state over development plans of the Aphrodite gas field.

Speaking to CyBC, the minister said: “The current week is decisive, since November 5 is approaching, which is the final day for announcements on whether or not the Republic of Cyprus will accept the proposed amendment to development plan for the Aphrodite field.”

He added that Cyprus’ priority is to secure its own interests, however adding that he understands that Chevron wants to cost cut to protect its own interest.

Chevron are the operators and a 35 per cent partner in the Aphrodite field, along with Shell (35 per cent) and Israeli firm NewMed Energy (20 per cent).

Back in May the joint venture submitted a revised development plan to the Cyprus government. It envisages transporting the gas to Shell’s West Delta Deep Marine (Wddm) existing processing and production facilities offshore Egypt, from where it would be transported to the mainland eventually for domestic consumption or for export as LNG.

But the revised plan does not include the construction of a Floating Production Unit (FPU) atop the well.

Commenting further on Tuesday, Papanastasiou said that the Republic of Cyprus rightly seeks to exploit the deposit and to ensure, through the creation of autonomous energy infrastructure, there will be low-cost energy production.

The energy minister said that, within the next few weeks, Eni’s confirmatory drilling of the Kronos field will begin in the Cypriot exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and is expected to be completed in January.

However, specialists had previously raised concern about the potential of a failure to reach a deal with Chevron.

Commenting on the potential impasse in talks between Cyprus and Chevron for the Aphrodite field in Cyprus’ EEZ during a conference on Tuesday, energy expert and CEO of EC Natural Hydrocarbons Company Ltd Charles Ellinas said that the government is rightly seeking improvements to the development plan.

However, he said, factors such as the fact that the clock on fossil fuels has started ticking backwards should be considered and if they wait there may be risks.

He added that a long-term conflict in the Middle East could delay projects for the development of natural gas fields.

Ellinas said that recent developments in the region, if they continue, could have negative effects on the development of natural gas in the Eastern Mediterranean, while a long-term conflict could delay projects and final investment decisions.

He added that the conflict could create doubts and concerns in the minds of investors that the geopolitical risk to develop in the area is too high.

Chevron would save approximately €1 billion by not building an FPU.

Using an FPU would allow water reinjection into Aphrodite’s reservoir to maintain production levels during the latter years of the field’s life, to overcome pressure loss. It could also allow the construction of a pipeline to bring some of the gas to Cyprus, should that be considered to be commercially viable – something the government has been pushing for.

Chevron’s updated plan also reduces the number of wells from five to three, leading to reduced gas production. Nicosia has rejected this because, it says, it would lead to lower gas recovery and less revenues for Cyprus.

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