Cyprus’ hydrocarbon exploration programme will resume in the second half of 2021, Minister of Energy Natasa Pilides has said, before admitting that the coronavirus pandemic made drilling projects “increasingly complex.”
Pilides also told participants at the virtual Economist 16th Cyprus Summit on Tuesday that covid-19’s outbreak forced international energy companies with licenses to carry out explorations in blocks of the Cypriot EEZ had to postpone projects planned for 2020.
“Our licensees have rescheduled their drilling programme for pretty much the second half of 2021,” she also said.
“Given the restrictions to travel, these projects are becoming increasingly complex,” she added.
The Ministry, which developed various scenarios and is working very closely with the oil and gas companies and has constant communication with all of them, is confident enough that programmes will resume safely.
On the development of the Aphrodite field, which carries 4.5 trillion cubic feet of gas, Pilides said the Ministry is in discussions with Chevron, which acquired Noble Energy, which was the block’s initial operator.
“Our plan for Aphrodite for getting the first gas in 2025 still remains our target date despite the reshuffling”, she said, adding that “we are similarly confident and hopeful that plans with TOTAL, ENI with Exxon Mobile will also progress from 2021 onwards.”
Romaric Roignan, vice-president North Africa, Total Exploration & Production said the region of Eastern Mediterranean is rich in gas and recalled the discoveries of Zhor, Tamar and Leviathan.
He added that three major discoveries in the Cypriot EEZ, Aphrodite, Calypso and Glaucus collectively hold around 17 trillion of cubic feet of gas “a very material resource that has to be produced.”
Total has concessions or participates in seven exploratory blocks in the Cypriot EEZ and has carried out two exploration wells so far.
But he added that the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic halted Total’s exploration programme in Cyprus.
“Six months ago, when we had to make this decision to stop (drilling activities) we said well we will come back in six months and hopefully with a plan but six months later with the second wave obviously we need more time,” he said.
He expressed hope they will come up with new plans for new drillings before the end of 2021. “That’s really our target, but we have to be very humble in the face of all the formidable scale of the challenges that we are facing and to recognize that we cannot control everything,” he said.