Eni-Total fail to find exploitable gas off Cyprus

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Cyprus said on Tuesday that an exploratory drill by Italian-French venture Eni-Total in waters off the Mediterranean island had failed to find enough natural gas to exploit.

The discovery of a gas field off Cyprus's southeast coast in 2011 raised the country's hopes of becoming a regional energy player, but it must find more reserves to make a planned onshore terminal financially viable.

Energy Minister George Lakkotrypis said data from the Eni-Total venture's exploration drilling in a different block had confirmed the existence of a natural gas reservoir within the country's exclusive economic zone.

But "preliminary estimates show that the amount of gas discovered does not make the deposit a stand-alone project," he added.

US firm Noble Energy made the first find off the southeast coast in 2011 in the Aphrodite field, which is estimated to contain around 127.4 billion cubic metres (4.54 trillion cubic feet) of gas.

Israeli firms Delek and Avner, as well as Royal Dutch Shell, all have a stake in that block, which has been declared commercially viable.

But Italian-South Korean venture ENI-Kogas has also so far failed to discover any exploitable gas reserves in deep-sea drilling off the island.

Cyprus had planned to build a liquefied natural gas plant that would allow exports by ship to Asia and Europe, but the reserves confirmed so far are insufficient to make that feasible.

Cyprus and energy-starved Egypt are looking into the possibility of transferring gas from the Aphrodite field to Egypt via an undersea pipeline.

Cyprus hopes to begin exporting gas, and maybe oil, by 2022.

US giant ExxonMobil said last week it planned two drills in the second half of 2018 to explore oil and gas off the island's southern coast.


© 2017 AFP

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