Cyprus Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis has said the government aims at starting new drilling offshore in the second half of the year by ENI/KOGAS and early next year by French Total, while Noble Energy is expected to proceed with additional exploration to enhance its finds in Block 12, adjacent to Israeli waters.
Lakkotrypis told the annual general meeting of the Famagusta Chamber of Commerce that exploration programmes are underway by all the companies that have been granted hydrocarbon exploration licences in blocks of the Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone.
So far Cyprus has signed exploration and production (E&P) contracts with US Noble Energy in block 12, and French Total in blocks 10 and 11. The Italian-Korean joint venture ENI-KOGAS were given concessions over blocks 2 and 3 and 9.
Exploration activity in block 12 revealed estimated gross mean resources of 5 trln cubic feet (tcf).
At the same time, Lakkotrypis said the Ministry of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism is promoting and implementing measures to restore growth, improve liquidity in the economy, attract new investments and create new jobs, on the basis of a new economic model, based on research, innovation and entrepreneurship.
In particular, he noted that the Ministry is preparing funding programmes for the period 2014-2020, seeking mainly to boost entrepreneurship, enhance the competitiveness of small- and medium-sized enterprises of the manufacturing sector, provide incentives to create business clusters and promote business innovation.
He also noted the establishment of the Cyprus Entrepreneurship Fund to enhance access to finance by SMEs with an amount of €100 mln made available through financing from the European Investment Bank.
On tourism, Lakkotrypis noted that “despite this year being a difficult one, the statistics are encouraging” as tourist arrivals increased by 3.5% between January and May, compared to the same period in 2013, and added that for the summer period hotel occupancy is “very high.”
On Tuesday, Lakkotrypis told the House Trade Committee that it was imperative that additional quantities of natural gas are discovered in the Cyprus EEZ, following the below-than-expected results of the appraisal drilling which took place in the summer last year.
He said that the decision for an onshore LNG plant is still in effect, provided new deposits are discovered.
Responding to questions, the minister said that the expression of intent by Israeli companies to supply natural gas to LNG plants in Egypt don’t affect Cyprus’ strategic plans.
Israeli companies Delek and Avner are 30% partners with Noble in the Cyprus Block 12, where China’s CNOOC has reportedly expressed interest. Delek, Avner and Noble are also joint venture partners in blocks within Israel’s mammoth Leviathan gasfield from where production has already begun.
Get all the latest news and videos in your inbox. Register FREE