Energy majors commit to East Med gas exploration

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Energy companies operating in the Eastern Mediterranean- Chevron, ENI, Shell, and ExxonMobil- reaffirmed their commitment to exploiting natural gas.

US oil major Chevron, which operates Aphrodite, considered the most mature gas field in the Cypriot EEZ, said it sees synergies between Cypriot natural gas and other activities in the region.

“This region has prolific resources, and there are significant resources yet to be discovered,” Kristan Svendsen, Country Manager for Chevron Cyprus, told a panel discussion at the Eastern Mediterranean Energy Conference in Limassol.

The Aphrodite gas field reservoir is estimated at around 3.5 trillion cubic feet, along with Shell and NewMed Energy.

The consortium is in discussions with the Cypriot authorities following a government rejection of a revised development plan for Aphrodite.

Chevron removed the floating production unit (FPU) from the development plant, proposing a pipeline linking the field with LNG facilities in Egypt. In contrast, Nicosia believes that lacking the FPU deprives flexibility and entails risks.

The negotiations have been extended until December 1.

“At Chevron, we very much see synergies between Cypriot natural gas and other activities in the region,” Svendsen said without elaborating.

“If Cypriot natural gas is developed, this will come with tremendous benefits, accompanied by revenues for the Republic of Cyprus and an expansion of Cyprus’ economic influence.”

Roel Mass, Vice President of East Med Gas and LNG for Shell, which has a 35% stake in Aphrodite, said there are natural gas export facilities in Egypt ready to be used, while there will be competition in case more infrastructure is created.

“It would be a great waste for the industry; the money could be spent much better on other things”.

Luca Draconetti, Managing Director of Italy’s ENI Cyprus, said the company is fully engaged in the Cypriot EEZ with an appraisal well in block six and Cronos gas field currently underway, noting.

“We are pushing because we need to unlock as much gas as possible in the shortest time because of renewables and hydrogen”.

Varanvas Theodosiou, Cyprus Manager for ExxonMobil, said the US oil major is currently assessing and evaluating seismic data acquired for Cyprus, Egypt, and Greece.

ExxonMobil with Qatar Energy has already carried out three drillings in block 10, of which one appraisal, and has made one discovery in the Glaucus gas reservoir.

“We are in the process of interpretation and evaluation of the seismic data, and we are planning to start a multi-country drilling programme at the back end of 2024, which will take up to perhaps 2026”.

Samuel Husy, Planning and Development Manager, Eastern Mediterranean for Total Energies, said, “The region’s potential is well known, and we want to be a part of this”.

Konstantinos Nikolaou, Vice President of Energean, with operations in Israel, Greece, and Egypt, said exports of natural gas to Cyprus remain an option, noting that there are concerns due to a lack of infrastructure, while there is no natural gas market, and the design of internal market is a state monopoly.