COVID19: Cyprus gas search to resume in mid-2021

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Cyprus’ stalled oil and gas exploration programme will resume in mid-2021, although the pandemic has made drilling projects “increasingly complex,” said Energy Minister Natasa Pilides.

With the outbreak of the pandemic energy companies with licenses to carry out explorations off Cyprus postponed their scheduled drills for 2020 for a year.

“Our licensees have rescheduled their drilling programme for pretty much the second half of 2021,” Pilides told the virtual Economist 16th Cyprus Summit, as given the restrictions to travel, “these projects are becoming increasingly complex.”

As she said her Ministry has “developed various scenarios and we are working very closely with the companies, we have constant communication with all of them with confidence that we will be able to resume schedules in a safe way.”

On the development of the Aphrodite field, which carries 4.5 trillion cubic feet of gas, Pilides said the Energy Ministry is in discussions with US giant Chevron, which acquired Noble Energy, the block’s initial operator.

“Our plan for Aphrodite for getting the first gas in 2025 still remains our target date despite the reshuffling.”

“we are similarly confident and hopeful that plans with Total, ENI and ExxonMobil will also progress from 2021 onwards.”

Romaric Roignan, vice-president North Africa, Total Exploration & Production said the Eastern Mediterranean is rich in gas and recalled the giant discoveries of Egypt’s Zhor and Israel’s Tamar and Leviathan.

He said the three major discoveries in the Cypriot EEZ, Aphrodite, Calypso and Glafcos collectively hold around 17 trillion of cubic feet of gas “a very material resource that has to be produced.”

France’s Total is a major player in Cyprus’ EEZ with concessions or participation in seven of 13 exploratory blocks, carrying out two exploration wells so far.

Roignan said the Covid-19 pandemic halted Total’s exploration programme in Cyprus.

“Six months ago, when we had to make this decision to stop (drilling activities) we said we will come back in six months and hopefully with a plan but six months later with the second wave obviously we need more time.”

He expressed hope that Total will come up with new plans for new drillings before the end of 2021.

“That’s really our target, but we have to be very humble in the face of all the formidable scale of the challenges that we are facing and to recognise that we cannot control everything.” (source CNA)