ExxonMobil Discovers Large Gas Field Off Cyprus

Exploration blocks in Cyprus' EEZ. ExxonMobil holds block 10 (file image)

By The Maritime Executive 02-28-2019 08:08:09

In a further confirmation of the potential of Cyprus' offshore reserves, ExxonMobil announced Thursday that it has found a large new natural gas field in Cypriot waters. 

The resource is the third-biggest find since 2017, and it holds an estimated five to eight trillion cubic feet (TCF). Exxon will conduct additional testing over the next several months to determine its exact potential. 

Exxon's drilling contractor went down 14,000 feet beneath 6,800 feet of water to find the resource at the frontier exploration well, dubbed Glaucus-1. The first well in the campaign - Delphyne-1 - found non-commercial quantities. 

Both sites are within Cyprus lease block 10, held jointly by ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum. The firms won the rights in a controversial 2017 lease auction held by the Cypriot government, over the objections of Turkey and the breakaway region of Northern Cyprus. 

"This is the greatest discovery within our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)," said Cyprus' energy minister, George Lakkotropis, at a briefing on Thursday. "It is an amazing development for all of Cyprus. 

The area includes several other large and super-large fields, including Eni's Calypso field and the Zohr field in Egypt. Zohr contains as much as 30 TCF of gas, putting it on the list of the top 20 largest gas formations in the world. Leviathan, located in Israeli waters to the east, is near behind at about 19 TCF. 

Cyprus' newfound wealth of natural gas poses several difficulties. First, Turkey questions Cyprus' EEZ claims, and maintains that the revenues from gas production should be shared with Northern Cyprus. In the past, Turkey has intervened militarily to prevent Cypriot-authorized offshore drilling. Second, the infrastructure needed to bring the gas to market is yet to be developed. Cyprus will need a subsea pipeline or an LNG liquefaction terminal in order to transfer the gas supply to European markets, where it would provide a new EU-produced alternative to Russian and other foreign import sources.