Thursday, March 9, 2017

‘Block 11 looks extremely promising’, gas expert says - CYPRUS MAIL

Cyprus' president Nicos Anastasiades (left) w/ European Commission's
president Jean-Claude Juncker
March 9, 2017
Elias Hazou

The partnership between French oil and gas major Total and Italy’s ENI in offshore Block 11 is an extremely significant development as it greatly increases the chances for a natural gas discovery in the licensed acreage, an energy analyst has told the Cyprus Mail.

“We have here a combination of Total’s technical know-how with ENI’s intimate knowledge of the proximate acreage after their discovery of the Zohr gas field in Egyptian waters,” Charles Ellinas said.

The expert confirmed reports that Block 11 is looking extremely promising.

To date, four or five targets have been identified there, he added.

And according to Phileleftheros, PGS, the Norwegian company contracted by the government to carry out 2-D and 3-D offshore seismic surveys in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), has meanwhile identified two geological structures spanning out of the Eratosthenes Mount and which bear similarities to the geology of the Zohr field – the largest gas find in the Mediterranean.

Zohr lies just six kilometres from the boundary of Block 11.

In a press release this week, ENI said its farm-in agreement with Total – where it acquired a 50 per cent stake in Block 11 – “further reinforces its own position in the country, acquiring the right of exploring an area of 2,215 square kilometres, nearby the ‘super giant’ Zohr discovery in the Egyptian offshore.”

Total remains the operator of the Block.

ENI said “the exploration well is expected to be drilled in the Block within 2017. This agreement is part of ENI’s strategy aimed at increasing its own exploration portfolio in the strategic area of eastern Mediterranean sea.”

Reports indicate that Total’s first-ever drill in Cyprus is scheduled for this summer, possibly June.

The identified target has been dubbed ‘Onisiforos’.

Phileleftheros reports that, for this purpose, Total has already chartered the West Capella ultra-deepwater drillship.

In the meantime ENI has begun drilling the seventh and final well in the Zohr field accelerated development project.

The data acquired from this should help provide an even clearer picture of the geology in the adjacent Cypriot acreage.

Earlier this week, the government announced its decision to award three more exploration concessions as part of its third hydrocarbons licensing round.

The concessions are to be granted to a consortium of ENI and Total for Block 6, Eni for Block 8, and a consortium consisting of ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum for Block 10.

The production-sharing contracts are expected to be signed soon.

Turkey claims that part of block 6 lies within the Turkish continental shelf.

Meanwhile Turkey’s energy minister Berat Albayrak stated this week that his country will step up seismic exploration of oil and natural gas resources in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea this year.

“We will take steps this year towards exploring and drilling in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea,” Albayrak told Anadolu Agency at the IHS CERAWeek 2017 energy conference in Houston.

“After our first seismic exploration vessel Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa, our second vessel will actively conduct 2-D and 3-D seismic exploration in both of our seas,” he added.

The Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa conducted seismic surveys in the Cyprus EEZ two years ago, leading to tensions and a temporary suspension of peace talks on the island.

The vessel eventually departed the Cyprus EEZ in March 2015.

The Turkish minister gave no clue as to where in the Mediterranean the Turkish vessels might explore for oil and gas.

It is possible that the envisaged exploration area could lie between the Greek island of Kastellorizo and Cyprus.

In November 2011 Turkey’s national oil company TPAO signed an accord with Shell for hydrocarbon exploration and production in the Mediterranean and southeastern Turkey.

To date, TPAO’s exploration activities have been focused on the gulf of Antalya, Iskenderun bay and Mersin bay in the eastern Mediterranean.