Nat­gas prospects ‘promis­ing’, say en­ergy ex­perts

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

The de­mand and the sup­ply of nat­u­ral gas in Egypt will con­tinue to in­crease and the north African coun­try con­tin­ues to be very in­ter­ested in Cypriot nat­u­ral gas, Dim­itris Fes­sas, Man­ager at Cyprus Hy­dro­car­bons Com­pany, told a dis­cus­sion of ex­perts at the 4th En­ergy Sym­po­sium in Ni­cosia.

Fes­sas added that a few weeks af­ter the dis­cov­ery of the Zohr gas­field within Egyp­tian wa­ters, there was a re­assess­ment of the new sit­u­a­tion, but that Cyprus’ strat­egy still re­mains on the ta­ble.

He added that Egypt’s plan at Zohr is to sat­isfy the needs of the do­mes­tic mar­ket, not­ing that the liq­ue­fac­tion ter­mi­nals of BG and those at the city of Dami­etta are po­ten­tial buy­ers of Cypriot gas.

Greece is will­ing to act as a tran­sit coun­try for Cypriot and Is­raeli nat­u­ral gas, on its way to Europe, Greek En­vi­ron­ment and En­ergy Min­is­ter Panos Sk­ourletis told the con­fer­ence. In his ad­dress, Sk­ourletis said that this can be achieved ei­ther through tankers, or di­rectly through the EastMed pipe­line, yet to be con­structed.

Athens seeks to play a cen­tral role in the re­gion, due to a com­bi­na­tion of gas pipe­lines run­ning through the coun­try, the Greek Min­is­ter said, re­fer­ring to the IGB con­nect­ing Bul­garia with Greece, the nat­u­ral gas hub in north­ern Greece and the de­signs for a new Rus­sian gas pipe­line, ex­pected to ex­tend to Greece and Italy.

Petroleum ge­ol­o­gist Con­stanti­nos Ni­co­laou ap­peared op­ti­mistic that Cyprus has sim­i­lar ge­o­log­i­cal struc­tures such as those dis­cov­ered in Zohr. He ex­plained that the gi­ant dis­cov­ery in Egypt’s off­shore zone was made pos­si­ble when ENI changed its ge­o­log­i­cal model and searched reefs in­stead of drilling in sandy ar­eas with rocks.

CEO at Cyprus Nat­u­ral Hy­dro­car­bons Com­pany Ltd, Charles El­li­nas said that Cyprus should keep all op­tions open in re­la­tion to the de­vel­op­ment of its nat­u­ral gas and should de­velop a plan B and C, be­cause of the in­creas­ingly re­duced price of nat­u­ral gas.

El­li­nas also said that Cyprus must re­con­sider the op­tion of com­pressed gas in or­der to achieve more com­pet­i­tive prices.

Ac­cord­ing to El­li­nas, “we have put all our eggs in one bas­ket” and he ap­peared con­cerned over the fact that Egypt has large gas re­serves which will be de­vel­oped over the next few years.

For­mer Di­rec­tor of the En­ergy Depart­ment at the En­ergy Min­istry, Solon Kasi­nis said that the prox­im­ity of Zohr de­posit to Cyprus’ ex­clu­sive eco­nomic zone (EEZ) is very promis­ing, adding that it seems that “we will be key play­ers in the re­gion.”

He ex­pressed hope that drilling in Block 11 by French com­pany To­tal in 2016 will yield sig­nif­i­cant re­sults.

In a sim­i­lar tone, Pres­i­dent Ni­cos Anas­tasi­ades said in his open­ing ad­dress at the con­fer­ence that 2016 will be a de­ci­sion-making year as re­gards the ex­ploita­tion of Cyprus’ nat­u­ral re­sources.

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