Cyprus aims for gas plant deal with U.S.-Israeli interests

from The Daily Star (Lebanon)..

June 20, 2013

NICOSIA: The Cypriot Cabinet approved Wednesday plans to sign for a deal with a U.S.-Israeli partnership to build a liquefied natural gas plant on the island to exploit untapped energy riches. “The Cabinet has approved the decision to sign the memorandum of understanding between Cyprus and companies Noble Energy International [U.S.], Delek Drilling and Avner Oil Exploration Limited Partnership for liquefaction terminal for natural gas,” said government spokesman Victor Papadopoulos.

Earlier this month, Noble started confirmation drilling off the southern coast to ascertain whether there is enough untapped gas to make the venture commercially viable.

Based on initial test drilling in 2011, the estimated amount of gas in Block 12 is 5-8 trillion cubic feet (142 billion-227 billion cubic meters), with a mean of seven trillion cubic feet, the Houston-based company said.

Noble owns 70 percent of the drilling project, with Israeli partners Delek and Avner each holding 15 percent.

The almost bankrupt Mediterranean island is hoping its untapped offshore energy resources can pull it back from the financial brink.

It hopes to commercially export its gas, and maybe oil riches, by 2020.

The eastern Mediterranean has been a hive of exploratory activity, with the Cypriot government granting permits to international prospectors after Israel discovered massive offshore gas deposits in 2010.

Noble made the first find off Cyprus’s southeast coast in 2011 near the Israeli maritime boundary, in a test well named Aphrodite-1 after the island’s mythological goddess of love.

The government has played up the potential of the gas windfall, estimating it at 60 trillion cubic feet, but this has yet to be verified through exploration.

Earlier this year, Cyprus signed additional agreements with French energy giant Total and a partnership of ENI of Italy and South Korea’s Kogas for oil and gas exploration in its waters.

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