US giant ExxonMobil plans Cyprus gas exploration
NICOSIAU.S. giant ExxonMobil said on Sept. 6 it plans to start drilling at two sites in the second half of 2018 to explore for energy reserves off the south coast of Cyprus.
Preparations to support the drilling operations are already underway, the company’s vice president Tristan Aspray said at a presentation in Nicosia, as reported by AFP.
He said the operations would take place back-to-back and begin in the second half of 2018. ExxonMobil with Qatar Petroleum has signed a license agreement with the Greek Cyprus government to explore block 10 for oil and gas as part of a third licensing round to exploit new offshore plots.
Block 10 is close to where ENI made a huge find in Egypt’s offshore “Zohr” field, raising hopes in Cyprus of more untapped wealth.
U.S. firm Noble Energy made the first find off southeastern part of the island in 2011 in the Aphrodite field (Block 12), estimated to contain 127.4 billion cubic meters (4.54 trillion cubic feet) of gas.
Israeli firms Delek and Avner have a 30-percent stake in the venture. Noble has handed over a 35 percent share to the UK’s BG International. Italian-South Korean venture ENI-Kogas has so far failed to discover any exploitable gas reserves in deep-sea drilling off the island. Block 12 has been declared commercially viable but an action plan on the next steps has yet to be finalized. Italy’s ENI and France’s Total, which have equal shares in block 11, have been conducting exploratory drilling off the south coast since July.
Turkey has been opposed to gas exploration by the eastern Mediterranean island, claiming that the rights of Turkish Cypriots are being violated.
Turkey started its seismic energy exploration in eastern Mediterranean in April in line with the government’s “National Energy and Mining Policy,” state-run Anadolu Agency has then reported.