ExxonMobil finds largest Cyprus gas reserve yet

February 28, 2019
The discovery of gigantic gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean has prompted competing claims by the internationally recognised Greek Cypriot government and Turkey, which occupies the northern third of the island

US energy giant ExxonMobil has discovered a huge natural gas reserve off the coast of Cyprus, Cypriot authorities said Thursday, a find that could raise tensions with nearby Turkey.

The "world-class discovery" is the biggest find in the island's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) so far, said Cyprus Energy Minister George Lakkotrypis.

It was also "one of biggest discoveries worldwide in the past two years", he added.

Preliminary analysis showed the reservoir holds between five and eight trillion cubic feet (around 140 to 230 billion cubic metres) of , he added.

ExxonMobil vice president Tristan Aspray, who attended the announcement in Cypriot capital Nicosia, called the initial results "encouraging".

The US oil giant has a 60 percent stake in Cyprus's Block 10, with Qatar Petroleum taking the remaining 40 percent.

Turkey also claims it has rights to off the coast of the divided island.

Ankara has warned international firms against exploration in the disputed waters, where Turkey backs a breakaway proto-state in the northern third of the island.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned foreign companies not to "overstep the mark", and officials have said Turkish ships would soon begin their own offshore drilling there.

But Nicosia has pushed ahead with energy deals as it seeks to become a regional energy player.

Texas-based Noble Energy in 2011 made the first discovery off Cyprus in the Aphrodite field (Block 12) estimated to contain around 4.5 trillion cubic feet of gas –- it has yet to be commercialised.

That block has been declared commercially viable but an action plan on the next steps has yet to be finalised.

Egypt's 2015 discovery of the huge offshore "Zohr" field, adjacent to Block 10, has stoked speculation that Cypriot waters could hold the same riches.

Cyprus needs to find more gas reserves to make a planned onshore terminal financially viable.

It had planned to build a liquefied natural gas plant that would allow exports by ship to Asia and Europe, but the reserves confirmed so far are insufficient to make that feasible.

Cyprus and energy-starved Egypt are looking into the possibility of transferring gas from the Aphrodite field to Egypt via an undersea pipeline. Cyprus hopes to begin exporting gas, and maybe oil, by 2022.

Explore further: Cyprus invites bids to explore for offshore gas

Related Stories

Israel firms invest in Cyprus energy search

February 11, 2013

Israeli firms Delek and Avner signed an agreement on Monday to acquire a 30 percent stake in exploration rights for gas and oil off Cyprus's southern shore carried out by US company Noble Energy.

Image: Cyprus from Sentinel 2A

March 11, 2016

The third largest island in the Mediterranean, Cyprus is about 240 km long and 100 km wide. It is located on the Anatolian plate and therefore belongs geologically to Asia, but politically it is a member of the EU.

Recommended for you

Coffee-based colloids for direct solar absorption

March 22, 2019

Solar energy is one of the most promising resources to help reduce fossil fuel consumption and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions to power a sustainable future. Devices presently in use to convert solar energy into thermal ...

Paleontologists report world's biggest Tyrannosaurus rex

March 22, 2019

University of Alberta paleontologists have just reported the world's biggest Tyrannosaurus rex and the largest dinosaur skeleton ever found in Canada. The 13-metre-long T. rex, nicknamed "Scotty," lived in prehistoric Saskatchewan ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.