Drilling in Onisiphoros disappoints, gasfield not viable, says Energy minister
The exploration drilling by French Total and Italy’s Eni in the “Onisiphoros West 1” gasfield in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) has fallen short of expectations, with the government minister saying it was not commercially viable.
The field in the offshore block 11, is estimated to have less than half a trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas, Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said on Tuesday, nearly a tenth of the estimated reserves in the “Aphrodite” gasfield discovered by Noble Energy and Israel’s Delek.
Speaking in Nicosia, Lakkotrypis also said that the outcome means that the reserve is commercially not a stand-alone project.
The Minister added, however, that results remain encouraging as they confirm the existence of natural gas and a hydrocarbon reservoir within Cyprus’ EEZ, similar to the one discovered in Egypt’s “Zohr” field, just south of block 11.
Lakkotrypis added that within 30 days, according to the contract, the Total-Eni consortium should provide a detailed report on the drilling results Ministry whether it will confirmatory drilling.
He explained that the information gathered during the drilling will be used for further studies, aimed at the final evaluation of the results of “Onisiphoros West 1” and in defining the future research project of the consortium for block 11.
At the same time he did not rule out the possibility for another target in block 11 and pointed out that every drilling activity provides valuable information to make the right decisions for the follow-up. The consortium has the opportunity to renew its license for block “11” in February 2018.
As regards the other licensed blocks in Cyprus’ EEZ, Lakkotrypis said that the third licensing round was built and was successful on the basis of “Zohr” geological model. The reason, he said, is that there are structures similar to Egypt’s giant field in the three blocks: “6”, “8” and “10”.
“The significance of ‘Onisiphoros’ lies in the fact that it has proved that “Zohr” geological model works, and exists, and inform the proceed with a something that gives an even more positive perspective”, Lakkotrypis said.
The ExxonMobil-Qatar Petroleum consortium has already announced two exploratory drillings in block ‘10’ in the second half of 2018, and the Minister said that he expects Eni and Total that hold the licenses for blocks ‘6’ and ‘8’ to inform him when and in what order they will proceed with their own drilling.
He also reiterated that the construction of an LNG plant in Cyprus remains a priority for the government, if more gas discoveries are confirmed to justify its operation.