US energy company Noble Energy Inc. will expedite plans to drill for natural gas off Cyprus, where it believes there is a sizable quantity, the company’s Vice President Terry Gerhart said on 16 February. Noble has a concession to explore for hydrocarbons in an offshore field south-east of Cyprus.
After the meeting with President Dimitris Christofias, Gerhart said, “we had a very good meeting with the President. We shared our plans that are moving forth with our drilling operation,” adding “as we told the Minister, our intention is to accelerate the drilling of the well in Cyprus, Block 12.” He stressed that “our hopes are to be able to start the well as early as the fourth quarter of 2011 or possibly slipping into the 2012.” He said a pipeline is one option of bringing any gas to Cyprus.
Cyprus licensed Noble Energy in 2007 to explore Block 12, which is near a field discovered off Israel that contains more than 450 billion cubic meters of natural gas. Exploration work off Cyprus will be the first attempt by the east Mediterranean island to tap hydrocarbon reserves. Noble had discussed with Cypriot authorities options about how to bring any finds from the Cypriot field to the island, including the option of constructing a pipeline, Gerhart said.
“We are working with Delek in Israel. They are our partners in Israel and we are looking forward to being a partner in Cyprus if approved,” Gerhart said. “We had quite a bit of success on the Israeli side with our discoveries of Tamar and Leviathan,” he added. Delek has proposed the creation of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility on the island to process deposits Israel has discovered offshore and which Cyprus hopes to uncover.
Turkey has voiced its disapproval of Cyprus’s oil and gas search and reacted negatively to Israel, Egypt and Lebanon getting involved. Israel and Cyprus signed an agreement in December delineating the maritime border between the two countries.
Turkey responded by saying the agreement was “null and void” because it fails to recognize the rights and jurisdiction of Turkish Cypriots on the divided island.