Delayed Cyprus energy drills to resume in November

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Cyprus’ COVID-delayed natural gas drilling programme will resume in November-December with US oil major ExxonMobil expected to drill in block 10, Energy Minister Natasa Pilides said.

Briefing a parliamentary committee on Cyprus’s energy programme, Pilides said her ministry worked intensively with ExxonMobil.

It will be the first company to proceed with new drills in block 10 before the end of the year following the 2020 disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic.

She said the company had hired a drilling vessel, and the authorities are in the process of issuing the necessary licenses.

Experts from the US and other countries started arriving in Cyprus to take part in the drilling process.

“We are on track, and we hope there will be no surprises associated with the pandemic.

We expect between November and December the latest the drilling programme will resume followed by ENI TOTAL with which consultations are underway,” Pilides added.

Texas-based Noble Energy in 2011 made the first discovery off Cyprus in the Aphrodite block estimated to contain around 4.5 trillion cubic feet of gas – it has yet to be extracted.

The discovery of nearby Egypt’s huge Zohr offshore reservoir in 2015 has stoked interest that Cypriot waters hold the same riches.

Cyprus has pushed ahead with exploring offshore energy resources despite the collapse in 2017 of talks to end the country’s decades-long division.

Turkey was widely condemned for sending drillships into Cyprus waters for energy exploration; the EU has also sanctioned it.

In February 2019, ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum discovered a huge natural gas reserve off the coast of Cyprus in block 10, the Mediterranean island’s largest find to date, holding an estimated five to eight trillion cubic feet.

The Italian state-controlled Eni and France’s Total, as the biggest players, are heavily involved in exploring offshore Cypriot oil and gas.

They postponed exploration in several offshore blocks for over a year due to COVID.