Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said he is prepared for all possible outcomes of the island’s oil and gas exploratory programme, which includes four test drillings in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) next year.
Τhe drillship Saipem 12000 is already at Calypso, the target in block 6 of the EEZ for Italy’s Eni and France’s Total, and is expected to start drilling on Sunday or the latest on Monday, January 1, Lakkotrypis said in an interview on state radio. After that, Eni will drill at the Cuttlefish target in block 3 and in the second half of 2018, the consortium led by ExxonMobil will carry out two more drillings in block 10.
“We have to be prepared,” he said. “We have made our calculations about the average (chances) of a discovery and we have various scenarios. There is a scenario of making no new discovery and the ideal scenario of making discoveries in all drillings”.
Lakkotrypis said he is encouraged, even though Eni and Total discovered less than 1 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas in September when they drilled in block 11.
Cyprus made its only gas discovery in its EEZ in 2011, when Noble Energy said it had found 4.5 tcf of natural gas in the Aphrodite field in block 11. The deposit remains unexploited and the required investment is €3 billion, according to the minister. The island is currently in negotiations with Egypt over the sale of Aphrodite’s future production to the Arab country’s liquefaction plants. Interest in hydrocarbon exploration in the eastern Mediterranean increased sharply when Eni announced the discovery of Zohr, a 30 tcf gas field off the coast of Egypt.
The exploration and development of Cyprus’ hydrocarbon resources is facing various challenges, the minister said.
Calypso ‘is from a technical point of view a difficult drilling in deep waters’ Lakkotrypis said. The waters are 3,500 meters deep and the drill will go an additional 3.500 meters below the bottom of the sea.
In addition to the technical and financial challenges, exacerbated by the drop in the oil price in 2014, geopolitics in the region, including the Cyprus problem, are also making matters more complicated, he added.
Turkey, which disputes the Republic of Cyprus’s EEZ and opposes its hydrocarbon programme, says that block 6 lies partially within its continental shelf. The dispute is expected to continue after the latest round of reunification talks ended in failure. Turkey traditionally sends warships and military aircraft into the area when the Republic of Cyprus drills for oil and gas, and has issued a NAVTEX warning covering the entire EEZ, including the drilling spot.
Government spokesman Nikos Christodoulides said that the government will go ahead with its energy planning regardless of Turkey’s actions.
The presence of major hydrocarbon companies in Cyprus’ EEZ constitutes a political and financial vote of confidence for Cyprus and the best answer to Turkey, Christodoulides told the Cyprus News Agency.
“We will not engage in a communication game with public confrontation with Turkey, assisting her in achieving her objectives which are none other than disputing Cyprus’ sovereign rights,” he said.
Source: Cyprus Mail