East Med: Sub­stan­tial acreage left to ex­plore, says Noble exec

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

De­spite be­ing spoiled by sev­eral large dis­cov­er­ies in the Is­raeli off­shore gas­fields, Noble En­ergy’s Cyprus coun­try manager be­lieves there is still much ex­plo­ration to be con­ducted, be­fore the full po­ten­tial of the eastern Mediter­ranean is known.

Speak­ing at the Eastern Mediter­ranean Gas Con­fer­ence in Ni­cosia last week, John Tomich said that the com­pany has en­joyed a very good start with the ma­jor gas dis­cov­er­ies that have been made off­shore Is­rael and Cyprus.

Four years af­ter the ini­tial ex­plo­ration well in block 12 within Cyprus’ ex­clu­sive eco­nomic zone, Noble En­ergy is ex­pected to sub­mit its com­mer­cial plans for the ‘Aphrodite’ gas­field that holds a gross re­serve of about 4.50 tril­lion cu­bic feet (tcf).

The eastern Mediter­ranean is on the road of be­com­ing a ma­jor hy­dro­car­bon pro­ducer, Tomich said, with sig­nif­i­cant oil po­ten­tial in the Le­vant basin and the need for more ex­plo­ration. He said that the deep wa­ter Le­vant basin is very young as a hy­dro­car­bon prov­ince, with sig­nif­i­cant ex­plo­ration ac­tiv­ity tak­ing place only in the last six years, since the gas dis­cov­ery at Is­rael’s Ta­mar field.

“Most basins take decades to be ex­plored and there is no ex­pec­ta­tion that the Le­vant will be any dif­fer­ent,” he said, adding that “there is sub­stan­tial acreage left to ex­plore”, re­fer­ring to cur­rent ex­plo­ration ef­forts by Italy’s ENI off Cyprus, as well as to new dis­cov­er­ies in Egypt.

Cyprus has al­ready en­gaged in talks in Cairo to con­sider ex­port­ing nat­u­ral gas by pipe­line to sat­isfy’s Egypt’s thirst for en­ergy as the Al Sisi ad­min­is­tra­tion has set am­bi­tious growth tar­gets for the near fu­ture.

Mean­while, Cyprus and To­tal seem to have reached some mu­tial un­der­stand­ing, de­spite the French gi­ant’s ini­tial plans to with­draw from the Cyprus EEZ, af­ter En­ergy Min­is­ter Yior­gos Lakkotrypis and the Gen­eral Manager of To­tal E&P Cyprus B.V., Jean-Luc Porcheron, signed an agree­ment last week on fur­ther ex­plo­ration in or­der to fur­ther as­sess the prospects for ex­plo­ration within block 11.

In Jan­uary, the Min­is­ter had an­nounced that To­tal was un­able to lo­cate sat­is­fac­tory drilling tar­get ar­eas within blocks 10 and 11 in the Cyprus EEZ that also echoed the French en­ergy gi­ant’s plans to cut back on ex­plo­ration plans around the world and re­duce costs, es­pe­cially now that profit mar­gins have nar­rowed ever since crude prices fell to half their mar­ket price since last June.

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