NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Natural gas will remain an important energy source through 2050 and quantities of the hydrocarbon found off the east Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus could reach markets through a pipeline or by liquefying it for transport by ship, the head of ExxonMobil’s Cyprus arm said Tuesday.
ExxonMobil Cyprus lead country manager Varnavas Theodossiou said “all energy sources remain important” for the next three decades “across a range” of scenarios set out under the Paris Agreement on climate change as the globe shifts to cleaner fuels toward achieving a zero-emissions goal.
He told The Associated Press by email that a combination of a pipeline or ship-transported, liquefied gas is also a possibility in getting the hydrocarbon to market.
Theodossiou explained that Cyprus has seen “very little” exploration activity to date and is regarded as “frontier exploration area” with “significant geologic uncertainty” about how much gas is contained in pockets beneath the seabed.
Although recent discoveries in the region, including Egypt’s massive Zohr field, offer indications that “geology can vary rapidly over short distances and it’s only with a carefully planned and executed seismic and drilling program that we will really know what’s there,” Theodossiou said.
The Cyprus government has granted ExxonMobil and partner Qatar Energy licenses to carry out exploratory drilling in two of 13 blocks inside waters off its southern coastline where it has exclusive economic rights.
In one such block, ExxonMobil discovered a deposit estimated to contain approximately 5-9 trillion cubic feet of gas and is currently drilling an appraisal well to get a more accurate estimate of the “quantity and quality” of the hydrocarbon.
Theodossiou appraisals and tests on the well named “Glaucus-1” are expected to be completed this March, but that it will take “a number of months” before the collected date can be evaluated to “give us a better understanding … and to direct our next steps.”
He said planning is already underway to start with obtaining seismic data in the second of the partnership’s two blocks later this year.
The Cypriot government has also granted drilling licenses for seven blocks to a consortium made up of French company Total and Italy’s Eni. In 2018, the consortium announced a “promising gas discovery,” but didn’t disclose any details until additional analysis is completed.
The first gas deposit was found off Cyprus in 2011 by Noble Energy which was later bought out by Chevron. That deposit contains an estimated 4.5 trillion cubic feet of gas.