by Chrysas Liangou
The drilling rig of the ENI-TotalEnergies consortium in the Cyprus EEZ has discovered a new gas field at the Zeus 1 target. This is a larger field than the one discovered by the Italian-French consortium on 22 August in the same block (Block 6).
The possibility of the SE Mediterranean region becoming a new source of gas supply for Europe is growing.
Preliminary estimates indicate a deposit of 2-3.5 trillion cubic feet, which, when combined with the deposits of 'Glafkos' (5-8 trillion cubic feet), 'Kronos 1' (2.5 trillion cubic feet), and 'Aphrodite' (4.2 trillion cubic feet), brings Cyprus' potential capacity to 13.7-18.2 trillion cubic feet. The Calypso field's reserves are estimated to be 6-8 trillion cubic feet of gas, but no target has been confirmed so far.
The new discovery in the Cypriot EEZ, which ENI is expected to announce today, improves the prospects for the exploitation of not only the "Kronos 1" field in the same block but also of "Glafkos," which is nearby and could become Cyprus's largest field under certain conditions.
The combined potential of these three fields, according to analysts, can support the 10 billion cubic meters capacity of the East Med pipeline, if, as they point out, "its route is redesigned to approach them and Egypt's participation in the project is secured in one way or another".
In any case, the new field strengthens the South-Eastern Mediterranean region's prospects as a new source of gas supply for Europe, contributing to the continent's energy independence. The suspected fields south and southwest of Crete, where ExxonMobil is conducting seismic surveys, are located in the same geological basin. According to EDEIP data, the geological structures identified in the Ionian and Cretan regions could potentially host reserves of 70-90 trillion cubic feet of gas, enough to cover 15%-20% of EU consumption.
Threats from Turkey
The Zeus 1 target is the fifth consecutive discovery in the Cypriot EEZ since 2011 when Noble Energy's drilling rig discovered the Aphrodite field in Block 12, and it comes just four months after the Kronos 1 discovery. Block 6, where the new deposit is also located, is one of the locations Turkey has mapped as part of its continental shelf, and when it was licensed five years ago, it even threatened a casus belli.
It was described as "a provocative action by the Greek Cypriot administration to offer permission for hydrocarbon exploration and extraction for the so-called Block 6, which lies partly within the outer limits of the Turkish continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean" in a document submitted to the UN on 12 April 2017. It also noted that Turkey "is committed to protecting its sovereign rights, which derive from international law, and will not allow foreign companies to carry out unauthorized hydrocarbon exploration and extraction activities on its own continental shelf". Furthermore, following the discovery of "Kronos 1" in August 2022 via the state news agency, Ankara was quick to reiterate that it does not recognize Cyprus' maritime boundaries with Egypt, Lebanon and Israel.
[This article was first published in Kathimerini's 'Oikonomiki' printed edition and was translated from its Greek original]