ExxonMobil awarded block 5 exploration rights

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Cyprus has awarded natural gas exploration rights for an offshore block to the ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum consortium, Energy Minister Natasa Pilides announced.

In comments to the press, Pilides said that Block 5 would be administrated by ExxonMobil, which will own 60% of the rights, with Qatar Petroleum owning the remaining 40% share.

“I have been authorised to sign on behalf of the Republic of Cyprus the exploration and production sharing contract agreed with the consortium after intense negotiations,” said Pilides after Thursday’s cabinet meeting.

She added that the contract would be signed at a ceremony held in Nicosia in the coming days.

The Minister said that the procedure followed for block 5 was the same as for block 7 under the Hydrocarbons Act.

ExxonMobil and partner Qatar Petroleum also have the rights for Block 10, also known as Glafcos, where natural gas was discovered.

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.

Block 10 is 2,572 square kilometres, with ExxonMobil again holding 60% interest with Qatar Petroleum owning 40%.

The consortium plans on drilling an appraisal well on Block 10 in December, with results expected by the end of February.

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 UN 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.

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 two years due to COVID-19.

In the first half of 2022, ENI and Total are expected to drill in their licensed blocks, including an appraisal well at ENI’s Calypso discovery in Block 6.

The companies have yet to provide a more precise timeframe.