The massive Egyptian natural gas discovery by Italy’s Eni has boosted the company’s confidence in Eastern Mediterranean hydrocarbons and it now wants to conduct exploration in more blocks offshore Cyprus, the Cyprus Weekly has learned.
In late August Eni announced that it had found an estimated 30 trillion cubic feet (tcf) in the Egyptian Zohr field.
The discovery is close to Block 11 in the Cyprus exclusive economic zone (EEZ) Block 11, which is held by France’s Total.
Eni, along with the Korea’s Kogas, already holds the licences for exploration and production in Blocks 2, 3 and 9 of the Cyprus Exclusive Economical Zone (EEZ).
After drilling in 2014 and early 2015, Eni twice failed to find exploitable hydrocarbons in Block 9. Total also decided not to drill in Block 11 after finding no exploitable resources.
However, Eni is now confident that the new geological model it is using could lead to more finds, and this is behind its expansion plans.
“Eni is particularly interested in Blocks 10 and 11 that are only few kilometres away from Zohr field and in blocks that have not been made available yet,” an informed source told the Cyprus Weekly.
Total’s licence for Block 11 runs out in February 2016 while Block 10 is currently unlicensed, having been relinquished by Total.
The government could either launch another licensing round or grant the Block 11 licence directly to Eni, according to our sources.
The same sources say that President Anastasiades has urged Eni not to abandon Blocks 2, 3 and 9 if that occurs.
Meanwhile, the Italian energy giant is also showing interest in the natural gas found by Noble Energy in the 4.5 tcf Aphrodite field in Cyprus’ Block 12.
“We have an energy plant that is empty, and so that could be an opportunity for gas that has been found in Cyprus to find (its) way to Europe,” Eni’s Chief Executive Officer Claudio Descalzi told reporters in Nicosia earlier this month.
State-controlled Eni, the biggest foreign oil and gas major in Africa, is currently a partner in the SEGAS liquefied natural gas (LNG) complex in Damietta, Egypt.
Earlier this week energy minister George Lakkotrypis met Noble Energy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) David L. Stover in Houston to discuss Noble’s Aphrodite field development plan and possible gas exports to Egypt earlier.
BG Group, which is one of the big providers in Egypt, has also expressed interest in buying natural gas for its Idku plant in Egypt.
BG recently had a takeover bid from Shell and is currently in consultation with Noble, Delek and Avner – owners of the licence in the Aphrodite field.