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Eni, Total find new gas discovery off Cyprus

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Italian giant Eni and France’s TotalEnergies have made another “significant gas discovery” in Block 6 offshore Cyprus, the Cypriot Energy Ministry said Wednesday.

It is the third such discovery from the consortium that has a lead role in Cyprus’ energy search.

“According to preliminary estimates, the quantities of natural gas is between 2-3 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) discovered in the Zeus-1 well of the Republic of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone,” said a ministry statement.

It said drilling was conducted by drill ship Tungsten Explorer 162 kilometres off the Cyprus coast, five kilometres west of the Cronos-1 well, at a depth of 2,300 meters.

“It revealed the existence of a 105-metre column of clean natural gas, with quantities that, according to preliminary estimates, total between 2 and 3 trillion cubic feet (Tcf).”

The Zeus-1 discovery is the third by the licensed consortium in Block 6, following Calypso-1 and Cronos-1, and “successfully tested in terms of its technical quality characteristics”.

“The finding confirms the region’s bright energy potential,” said the ministry.

It said the consortium has already begun to examine ways to “speed up and optimise the exploitation of the discoveries”.

TotalEnergies’ Senior Vice President for Exploration, Kevin McLachlan, said: “This success at Zeus-1 further enhances the potential of Block 6, only four months after the Cronos-1 discovery”.

“New data gathered from the well will assist our ongoing assessment of fast-track development options for the discovered resources.”

Total holds a 50% interest in Block 6, where Eni is the operator (50%).

It is also present in offshore Block 11 (50%, operator), 7 (50%, operator), 2 (20%), 3 (30%), 8 (40%) and 9 (20%).

Cyprus hopes new discoveries of natural gas could speed up the exploitation of untapped resources and help secure supplies to Europe.

Russia

With Russia threatening to cut off gas supplies to the European Union, Nicosia seeks to become part of the bloc’s energy plan to reduce reliance on Moscow.

According to reports, the combined potential of these three deposits can support the EastMed pipeline capacity of 10 billion cubic metres.

Analysts estimate that the new finding strengthens the prospects of the South-East Mediterranean region as a new source of natural gas supply to Europe, contributing to its energy supply security.

In 2018, Eni discovered the large Calypso-1 gas field in the same block, containing an estimated 4.5 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Nicosia has granted the Eni-Total consortium drilling licences for seven of its 13 licensed blocks.

The latest discovery adds to three other major gas finds, including at the Aphrodite well in Block 12 of 4.5 trillion cubic feet, licensed to US firm Chevron, Britain’s Shell, and Israeli partners.

The government estimated it would take about four years to commercially exploit Aphrodite, with the gas likely to be exported to nearby Egypt.

US giant ExxonMobil and Qatar Energy are also licensed for oil and gas exploration and production-sharing off Cyprus, angering Turkey.

Gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean has been a sore spot for the two nations due to competing claims over rights to maritime zones.

In February 2019, ExxonMobil and Qatar Energy discovered a huge natural gas reserve off Cyprus in Block 10, the island’s largest find to date with an estimated five to eight trillion cubic feet.

Block 6 is one of the areas that Turkey has marked as part of its continental shelf, and five years ago, when it was licensed, Turkish officials viewed the move as a ‘casus belli’.