Total rushing for final drill


French energy giant Total is rushing to meet a deadline in a last ditch effort to discover oil and gas deposits in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone southern part which borders Egypt’s rich ‘Zohr’ plot.

Total SA has sent some of its staff back to the island over the last few days to prepare the ground for an exploratory drill in Field 11 before its license expires in February 2016, daily Phileleftheros said on Wednesday.

Experts in the industry see this as a U-Turn on the part of the company, as its previous leadership had described fields 10 and 11 as “negligible”.

But it all changed after ENI discovered an estimated 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas inside its Egypt’s Zohr field just south of Cyprus’ EEZ.

Total is already making contacts in an effort to fast-track the overall process in Cyprus, which involves a number of state services issuing licenses both for land and sea operations.

The company would also need to put together a drilling programme before it can ask the Energy Ministry for permission to drill.

If the French company manages to drill before February, then this would allow Total to apply for license extensions, thus getting its foot in the door for further exploration for natural gas as well as oil.

But things may not be as easy, since there are many factors involved in getting the final okay.The Cyprus government would need to evaluate the state of play, including financial guarantees and the ongoing UN-brokered Cyprus peace talks.