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Investments Gas Cyprus

French oil and gas major Total is displaying a “lively” interest in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) after the discovery of a giant gas field in nearby Egyptian waters, the government said on Tuesday.

“Cyprus’ energy plans not only continue but are boosted, and we were engaging so that very soon we will have more specific announcements on this,” government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said.

He was briefing the press after a meeting in Nicosia between President Nicos Anastasiades and a senior Total delegation.

The company’s interest also stemmed from updated seismic data they recently acquired from their Block 11 concession, Christodoulides said.

But asked whether Total was interested in other offshore blocks, or whether they plan to drill in the near future, the spokesman declined comment, advising patience.

“Once there are specific developments and specific decisions are taken, we shall announce them. When it comes to such serious issues we have to be careful what we say in public, we need to do more and say less,” he said.

For his part, energy minister Lakkotrypis – who also attended the meeting – was a little more forthcoming.

Walking into the meeting, Lakkotrypis told reporters: “We shall be discussing Block 11, and Total’s potential participation in other blocks.”

Total’s renewed interest is a significant turnaround, coming 10 months after the company signalled it was abandoning its prospecting in Cypriot waters after failing to identify good drilling targets.

Anxious to keep Total’s operations going, even on a token level, the government subsequently moved to amend the company’s contract.

Total relinquished Block 10 without drilling any wells. The company was released from its original two-well drilling commitment – across two adjacent blocks, 10 and 11, lying on the maritime border with Egypt – but maintained exploration rights in Block 11, agreeing to continue to evaluate 3D seismic data in a bid to locate a possible target.

Total’s exploration programme in Block 11 expires in February 2016. Government officials have made no secret of the fact that the company wants to have their license renewed.

The shift came in late August, when Italian energy company ENI announced they had discovered a gas play – dubbed Zohr – in Egyptian waters, thought to hold some 30 trillion cubic feet of resources.

Zohr is located just 6.5km from the boundary of Cyprus’ Block 11, leading to speculation that a part of the prospect may extend into the Cypriot side.

In discovering Zohr, ENI took a gamble that paid off immensely. Instead of using the traditional geological sequencing model tracking sand reservoirs, the company deployed a carbonates-based model.

It is therefore quite possible that, since August, Total has likewise focused its surveys on the more promising carbonate layers in the Block 11 bedrock, which it had not done previously, an energy expert told the Cyprus Mail.

“ENI are expected to carry out follow-up drilling at Zohr around January. In the meantime, there is a likelihood – albeit low – of the presence of oil in that acreage, which means there could also be oil strata in Block 11,” said Charles Ellinas.

“So it makes complete sense for Total to maintain a presence in the Cyprus EEZ, as they await the results of appraisal drilling in nearby Zohr,” he added.


Sk Webline Ltd