Cyprus said on Tuesday that an exploratory drill by Italian-French venture Eni-Total found natural gas but not enough to exploit.
“The data obtained from the exploration drilling and the evaluation so far have shown the existence of natural gas,” Energy Minister George Lakkotrypis said Tuesday.
“Preliminary estimates show that the amount of gas discovered does not make the deposit a stand-alone project,” he added.
But he described the discovery as “highly positive” as it confirms the existence of a natural gas reservoir within Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone, similar to the huge Egyptian Zohr gas field that could hold 30 trillion cubic feet of gas.
The minister said information gathered during the drill will be used to prepare further studies, aiming at the final evaluation of the results and define future research by the joint Eni-Total venture in block 11.
The record Zhor find has raised hopes that there is more untapped wealth to be found off Cyprus.
US firm Noble Energy made the first find off the southeast coast in 2011 in the Aphrodite field (Block 12), which is estimated to contain around 127.4 billion cubic metres (4.54 trillion cubic feet) of gas.
Block 12 has been declared commercially viable but an action plan on the next steps has yet to be finalised.
Italian-South Korean venture ENI-Kogas has so far failed to discover any exploitable gas reserves in deep-sea drilling off the island.
- Less gas than expected at Onisiforos
- Turkish provocations ‘will not stop Cyprus gas exploration’
- Cyprus gas hub
Italy’s ENI and France’s Total (who have an equal share in block 11) conducted exploratory drilling off Cyprus’ southern shore from July.
Cyprus needs to find more gas reserves to make a planned onshore terminal financially viable as it seeks to become a regional energy player.
It had planned to build a liquefied natural gas plant that would allow exports by ship to Asia and Europe, but the reserves confirmed so far are insufficient to make that feasible.
Nicosia and energy-starved Egypt are looking into the possibility of transferring gas from the Aphrodite field to Egypt via an undersea pipeline.
Cyprus hopes to begin exporting gas, and maybe oil, by 2022.
US giant ExxonMobil said last week it planned two drills in the second half of 2018 to explore oil and gas off the Mediterranean island’s southern coast.