The Cyprus hydrocarbon exploration programme will resume in the second half of 2021, energy minister Natasa Pilides said, noting however that the pandemic has rendered drilling projects “increasingly complex.”
With the outbreak of the pandemic, energy companies with licenses to carry out explorations in blocks of the Cypriot EEZ had to postpone drilling projects planned for 2020, Pilides said.
“Our licensees have rescheduled their drilling programme for pretty much the second half of 2021,” Pilides told the virtual Economist 16th Cyprus Summit held on Tuesday, adding that given the travel restrictions, “these projects are becoming increasingly complex.”
She said the ministry has “developed various scenarios and we are working very closely with the companies and we have constant communication with all of them with confidence that we will be able to resume programmes in a safe way.”
On the development of the Aphrodite field, which carries 4.5 trillion cubic feet of gas, Pilides said the ministry is holding talks with Chevron, which acquired Noble Energy, which was the block’s initial operator.
“Our plan for Aphrodite for getting the first gas in 2025 still remains our target date despite the reshuffling”, she said, adding that “we are similarly confident and hopeful that plans with TOTAL, ENI with Exxon Mobile will also progress from 2021 onwards.”
Romaric Roignan, vice-president of North Africa, Total Exploration & Production said the region of Eastern Mediterranean is rich in gas and recalled the discoveries of Zhor, Tamar and Leviathan.
He added that three major discoveries in the Cypriot EEZ, Aphrodite, Calypso and Glaucus collectively hold around 17 trillion cubic feet of gas, rendering it “a very material resource that has to be produced.”
Total participates in seven exploratory blocks in the Cypriot EEZ and has carried out two exploration wells so far.
But he added that the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic halted Total’s exploration programme in Cyprus.
“Six months ago, when we had to make this decision to stop [drilling activities] we said well we will come back in six months and hopefully with a plan but six months later with the second wave obviously we need more time,” he said.
He expressed hope they will come up with new plans for new drillings before the end of 2021. “That’s really our target, but we have to be very humble in the face of all the formidable scale of the challenges that we are facing and to recognize that we cannot control everything.”