Nicosia says preliminary estimates of a new gas discovery in the country’s exclusive economic zone raise the prospect that big players could still include the island in their plans to supply the European Union with much needed natural gas.
Cypriot Energy Minister Natasa Pilides, who was a guest on state radio Tuesday morning, sounded positive over a natural gas deposit announced a day earlier by the ENI-Total consortium, some 100 miles off the Cypriot coastline.
ENI said in a statement on Monday that “a significant gas discovery in the Cronos-1 well drilled in Block 6” which is operated by Eni Cyprus holding 50% interest with TotalEnergies as partner. The Italian company said preliminary estimates indicated about 2.5 TCF of gas, “with significant additional upside that will be investigated by a further exploration well in the area.”
According to Kathimerini Cyprus, the Cypriot government does not view the discovery in Block 6 as insignificant, with the network’s Apostolos Tomaras connecting the dots with a new drilling in Zeus-1 within the same block that has already started by ENI.
The optimism was confirmed by the minister who said “it is good to be cautiously optimistic as nobody ever really knows,” adding that “prospects are very good because of the other potential targets.”
'The EU energy commissioner made it clear to us that independence from Russian gas is a long-term commitment' Pilides said
Pilides also pointed to past statements over the summer from Chevron, which is also prepping another drilling target in the area, “but this was positive due to the proximity of another earlier discovery,” she said.
Pilides argued the discovery could make it possible that Cypriot gas could end up in Europe a lot faster, pointing to existing infrastructure in the region, referring to EU planning to import natural gas from Egypt.
“The prospect is much better when there are new quantities added to the pool,” she said.
According to Pilides, Chevron is examining options by which Cyprus would be included in its exports from Egypt to the European Union.
“There is interest from the EU in terms of how we may move forward so that we can be included more actively in the planning between consortia,” Pilides said.
Israel-Egypt-EU MOU - Cyprus wants in
Earlier this summer Israel signed a trilateral memorandum of understanding with Cairo and Brussels, enabling Israeli natural gas to be exported as liquified natural gas to Europe through Egypt.
“Egypt and Israel are sending a message that one can be competitive in the natural gas market while seeking a better environmental future,” said Israel’s Energy Minister Karine Elharrar during the signing ceremony in Cairo back in June.
After the signing, EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said the MOU with Egypt and Israel, would allow Brussels to “count on LNG from Israel and the Mediterranean region via the Egyptian LNG infrastructure."
Pilides says not too late for Cyprus
But Pilides says it may not be too late for Cyprus to join in.
The Cypriot minister admitted it would take some three years to plan and build a pipeline to Egypt, setting Cyprus’ “realistic and feasible goal” to join the supply chain in 2027.
“But the EU energy commissioner made it clear to us that independence from Russian gas is a long-term commitment,” Pilides said, adding that “even Egypt and Israel within the EU plans need more time because some of those resources have been pledged to other markets.”
Cypriot gas internal usage prospects
Pilides did not rule out some quantity of Cypriot gas being supplied to the island.
But the prospect of Cyprus making use of its own gas is not uncomplicated, as there were infrastructure issues while other options could take priority, Pilides explained.