ExxonMobil will measure gas field size in 6-8 weeks


NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) – ExxonMobil drilling, slated for late next month to confirm the amount of natural gas held in a sizeable reservoir off the southwest coast of Cyprus, will reveal the fuel’s potential markets in Europe and Asia, The energy minister announced on Wednesday.

Minister Natasa Pilides says the “significant” drilling in the Glaucus-1 well in Block 10 of the Cyprus Exclusive Zone, due to begin in 6-8 weeks, will determine whether the deposit is at the top or bottom of its estimated size of is 5-8 trillion cubic feet (142-227 billion cubic meters) of natural gas.

A higher confirmed amount would of course mean higher profits and, in turn, place the exploitation of the deposit on the priority list for ExxonMobil and its partner Qatar Petroleum among the various projects they are currently working on.

Pilides told The Associated Press in an interview that pipeline transfer of the gas to Egyptian processing plants, where it would be liquefied for export on board ships, is currently the “most likely option”.

A possible construction of a processing plant in Cyprus is not entirely excluded, however, depending on the total amount of gas that has been found off the island and that would make the project economically feasible.

A consortium of France’s Total and Italy’s Eni is expected to begin drilling in the first half of next year to determine the size of the promising deposit in its “Calypso 1” well in Block 6, which is adjacent to an area , in which ExxonMobil-Qatar Petroleum is licensed.

The Total / Eni consortium is licensed to search for hydrocarbons in seven of 13 blocks off Cyprus. “Calypso” could extend to the neighboring block 7, which belongs to the consortium.

Pilides said natural gas is a cleaner burning conventional fuel that countries in Europe and elsewhere could use to move to more renewable sources for power generation. Models show that even countries that generate most of their energy from renewable sources still have a “fairly high percentage” of natural gas or nuclear power as a substitute energy source.

Technology has not yet reached the point where renewable energies could meet all of a country’s energy needs, so “there is still room for natural gas”.

“Because (gas) prices are rising, we are in a phase where there is definitely more hope that, with sufficient quantities in Cyprus, it could be an alternative for our region,” said Pililides.

Pilides said Egypt is keen to advance regional cooperation for a pipeline to transport gas from Cypriot and even Israeli waters to its processing facilities.

Though no figures were discussed, Pilides said the possibility of a pipeline is being examined that would transport gas to Egypt from Cyprus’ Aphrodite deposit and Israel’s huge, adjacent Leviathan field – both operated by Chevron.


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