**LNG plant at Vassilikos still the priority**
Noble Energy has put further natural gas exploration in Cyprus’ Block 12 on the fast track, with the aim of drilling new appraisal wells in other parts of the block by the end of 2014, according to John Tomich, Noble’s Country Manager, speaking at the Euro Med E&P summit in Limassol on Tuesday.
Tomich said that in addition to the recently announced results in Block 12, which he described as a “world-class resource”, the company is following up on a number of leads from two-dimensional (2D) surveys for the rest of Block 12.
Noble conducted large-scale three-dimensional (3D) seismic surveys in Block 12 earlier this year. These surveys are currently being processed to identify the best location for new exploration wells.
“Our goal is to pick a drillable feature”, said Tomich, adding that the goal is to drill a new appraisal well by the end of 2014.
Although Tomich did not say this, new finds will probably be important in determining the commercial viability of viable an onshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant.
The results of the A-2 appraisal well were announced on October 3. The latest estimate is now 3.6 to 6 trillion cubic feet (tcf) with a gross mean of 5 tcf. This is lower than the previous estimated mean of 7 tcf.
However, Tomich was at pains to emphasise that the results were not final.
“The results of the A-2 appraisal well are partial” he said, adding that as a listed US company they are obliged to make disclosures as soon as possible.
“There is a lot of information that will take time to digest, that we will feed into our reservoir model so that we can refine our estimate,” he said.
While the lower gross mean has raised questions about the commercial viability of an LNG plant, both Tomich and Constantinos Xichilos, Deputy Director of the Energy Service, noted that an onshore LNG plant remains the preferred option for exports.
“The strategic priority” is LNG, said Xichilos, though he added “at the same time we are following new technologies and we are watching what is happening around us”.
For the LNG plant the aim is to sign a project agreement by end 2013 and a final investment decision by the third quarter of 2015.
Domestic gas earlier than 2018?
As for how fast Noble can get gas to shore for domestic consumption and help bring down sky high electricity prices, Xichilos said that the aim was to bring it by the third quarter of 2018.
However, he also hinted that this might happen a bit earlier.
Noble has a good record of bringing gas to shore quickly.
In the Israeli field of Tamar, the period between first drilling in 2009 and first production in March 2013 was completed in a record 51 months, instead of the usual 5 to 10 years.
It also came in under budget.
“We are going to try to apply the same approach to other projects”, said Tomich.
Get all the latest news and videos in your inbox. Register FREE