Natgas prospects ‘promising’, say energy experts
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.