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Renewed push to extract Cyprus gas as EU shortages loom

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Cyprus expects its natural gas to become commercially available by 2027, its energy minister said on Friday, adding that Europe’s energy crisis puts a renewed focus on expediting reserves in the eastern Mediterranean.

Nicosia reported its first find in 2011 and its most recent in August. However, quantities have yet to be extracted.

“With the most recent discovery and the numbers that we have, we have about 12 to 15 tcf (trillion cubic feet) of natural gas potentially available for supply to the EU,” Energy Minister Natasa Pilides said.

“We have initiated a discussion with the Commissioner of Energy … on how we can expedite the process of developing and utilizing our own natural gas,” she told Reuters in an interview.

Cyprus has a cluster of 13 offshore blocks rimming the south of the island, with most of them under licence.

Partners, in its oldest discovery, in 2011 of Aphrodite, plan to drill early next year to affirm earlier estimates of around 4.5 tcf.

Authorities expect gas from Aphrodite to be commercially available in 2027.

In that case, one of the main delivery scenarios is gas being piped to LNG infrastructure in Egypt.

An additional scenario in the case of other discoveries within proximity is establishing a floating LNG facility that would liquefy the gas for transfer onto ships for export, said Pilides, whose portfolio also covers commerce and industry.

“The idea is to find synergies between companies operating in nearby plots so we can have a plan on how to construct infrastructure which can be finished in a short period,” Pilides said.

Officials from east Mediterranean states will be in Cyprus on Oct 13-14 for the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF), a meeting of countries seeking to promote natural gas exports.

The EU, the United States and the World Bank have observer status.

EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson will address the forum and be present at the inauguration ceremony of the Euro-Asia Interconnector, a subsea cable that will traverse the Mediterranean carrying up to 2,000 megawatts of electricity that will eventually link grids from Israel and Cyprus to Greece. (source Reuters)