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Cyprus Energy Minister optimistic for more natural gas

11 July, 2014

Minister of Energy Giorgos Lakkotrypis has said that in addition to the discovery so far of 5 tcf of natural gas in Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone, the government is optimistic for further discoveries in the near future, as over the next 12 to 18 months the exploration activities of the licensees will intensify.

“Prospects appear very promising", he said, adding that "moreover, there are encouraging indications for oil discoveries offshore Cyprus”.

Addressing a conference on the security of natural gas supply, that takes place in Malta, the Minister said that as of today, more than 35 tcf of natural gas have been discovered in offshore Israel, approximately 5 tcf have been discovered in the Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and, according to Lebanese officials, preliminary estimates from seismic surveys show resources of about 30 tcf of natural gas in Lebanon.

He expressed optimism, saying that "in addition to the Aphrodite discovery in the Cyprus EEZ, we are optimistic for further discoveries in the near future, as over the next 12 to 18 months the exploration activities of our licensees will intensify. Prospects appear very promising".

"Moreover, there are encouraging indications for oil discoveries offshore Cyprus. Overall, in 2010 the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that hydrocarbon resources in the Eastern Mediterranean (Levant and Nile Delta Basins) could be as much as 3.4 bbl of oil and 345 tcf of natural gas. It is therefore becoming evident, that the region is a new promising source for oil and gas supply, as well as an alternate transportation route", he stressed.

As regards the way in which Eastern Mediterranean gas resources should be transported to European and international markets, he said that after carefully examining all of the options, Cyprus has put together a strategic monetization plan, with an Onshore LNG facility at its core located at Vasilikos - at the southern shore of Cyprus, and convenient to process all gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean.

"We feel that this option is the optimum infrastructure that would enable us to transport gas to European and international markets. Optimum in terms of both, the flexibility it can provide to Cypriot and regional gas, and the commercial advantages it entails" he said.

Additionally, the Minister pointed out, it aligns perfectly with EU strategy of expanding its LNG infrastructure base, as it can supply the current and planned European Regasification Terminals, while remaining largely immuned to risks associated with the fragile political environment in the area.

"We are not oblivious to the commercial challenges that this option carries, neither in terms of the required capital nor time-to-market. But we are determined to face them responsibly and pragmatically. We are confident that the Cyprus Onshore LNG Plant could be an important first step towards the concept of the “Eastern Mediterranean Gas Corridor”, within the framework of EU’s policy for the diversification of external supplies and related infrastructure", he said.

Lakkotrypis expressed conviction that "Cyprus, being the only European Union member in the South Eastern Mediterranean region and a country with excellent longstanding relations with all its Middle East neighbours, is well positioned to play a vital role in achieving this vision".

Referring to Europe`s role, he said "we seek Europe’s support and strong engagement in securing the vital but delicate region of the Eastern Mediterranean as an alternative source of energy supply and route, contributing to the EU’s energy security. Imagine not what it is today, but what it could be tomorrow".