Cyprus and US energy firm Chevron said they are committed to accelerating the development of the offshore Aphrodite gas field to supply the European Union and Egypt.
Energy Minister Natasa Pilides announced on Thursday that the development of the Aphrodite field in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone will continue with more offshore drilling in the first quarter of 2023.
The announcement was made following a Parliament meeting with House speaker Annita Demetriou and the President of Chevron Middle East, Africa, South America Exploration and Production Company, Clay Neff.
Pilides said there would be an appraisal well to establish the exact quantities of the deposit, but the drilling will also be used at a later stage to develop the field.
She discussed with the US company representative the various options under consideration for the transportation of natural gas to Egypt.
Changes in the global scene following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine were also discussed, and the possibility of accelerating Cyprus’ participation as a partner in Israel and Egypt’s efforts to supply the European Union.
Natural gas in the field was discovered in 2011. It is estimated to contain about 4.5 trillion cubic meters (tcf) of gas, but it is untapped.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing disruption of energy supplies have left European countries scrambling to find alternative sources of natural gas.
There will be on-site drilling of a new well in the coming months within the framework of an already approved development and production plan, the Energy Ministry and Chevron said in a joint statement on Thursday.
“Taking into account the prevailing energy environment and the potential for Cyprus and the wider Eastern Mediterranean to significantly contribute to Europe’s security of supply and diversification of sources, both parties remain committed to continuing working together to expedite the timing of first gas from Aphrodite to Egypt and European markets,” the statement said.
Part of the delay in developing Aphrodite is that a small part of the field stretches into Israel’s maritime zone.
Chevron is partners in the Aphrodite field with Shell and Israel’s NewMed Energy, formerly known as Delek Drilling. Chevron merged with independent operator Noble Energy, which had held stakes in the Cypriot field and some Israeli ventures, in 2020.
Neff said he was able to provide Pilides with an update on the Aphrodite project and informed her about Chevron’s plan to continue with drilling activities in the coming months.
“I just want to say how important Cyprus is to Chevron and the Eastern Mediterranean region.
“We believe that the Aphrodite project can play a key role, providing additional gas supplies to the region, and we look forward to working with our partners.
“We believe that this project will provide very important natural gas supplies to the region and the world.
“It is so critical that we have affordable, reliable energy, and we believe that Aphrodite will contribute to that in the future.”
Pilides said ExxonMobil would conduct additional seismic surveys in the Glafcos field.
“All the relevant permits have been granted so the exploration vessel can start its work in the next few days, which is expected to be completed within the next three months.
“It is a process that unfortunately takes time, but it is important because it could potentially add to the findings.”
Asked what options being considered for the transportation of gas to Egypt are, Pilides said she could not expand in detail.
But the scenarios foresee either the interconnection of the Aphrodite field with existing infrastructure in the region or a solution related to the interconnection of Aphrodite with Idku.
“We are trying to work on the faster implementation of these milestones because they provide some flexibility, but we will do our best to take advantage of the opportunities we see now with the rising prices and the green transition at the European level,” she added.
Pilides said that during COVID, there was a climate of uncertainty regarding drilling and the future of the gas market.
“Now there is a much clearer view, we had some very positive feedback from the EU, and the Energy Commissioner has reaffirmed that as a bridge fuel, natural gas can play a role until 2050, a very important confirmation for us because it gives companies a more reliable timeframe so that they know that the project is definitely viable.
“As a result, there is a willingness to expedite, and certainly, we have made a lot of progress in the last months.
“We agreed today that we need to have the agreed development plan ready by the end of the year or beginning of next year. “